Rent control measures proposed in Manitoba

Manitoba Consumer Affairs Minister Gord Mackintosh and Community Development Minister Kerri Ivin-Ross are leading the charge, arguing they are looking out for tenant rights in the province in a time when vacancy rates are down to 0.7% in the province, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The national vacancy rate is 2.7%.

Mackintosh told local media that the tighter market was leading to higher rents and the market needed more regulation.

“Your home is your castle, even if it’s rented,” he said. “So especially in times of low vacancy rates, tenants need to be protected against excessive rent increases and unfair eviction.”

According to the TVS Landlord blog, the changes would require landlords to upgrade more than one major component under the whole-building rehabilitation program. Instead, they would need to do two, such as heating and plumbing, and would have to spend 50% more on a per-unit basis.

Other measures include limiting the conversion of apartments to condos when rental vacancies are low, and doubling the three month notice required for tenants more notice for such conversions.

The blog stated landlords would also not be able to recover the cost over six years, but instead eight years.

The Winnipeg Rental Network, a non-profit organization which promotes affordable housing, has pointed to Regina, which also has a 0.7 vacancy rate and no rent controls. Some tenants in Regina reported rent increases this past year of between 70% and 100%. But government officials there countered, saying such increases were an anomaly.

Mackintosh said the annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Winnipeg is now almost $1,400 cheaper than in Saskatoon, where there is no regulation.

Critics of rent control say it is politically motivated to gather votes, but is not effective in lowering rents in the long term since it discourages renovations and stifles demand of developers in building new units.

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