It's never been a better time to rent in Calgary, but it's coming at a cost to landlords.
A recent report published by a Calgary real estate company has found that close to 40 per cent of private rental units currently listed in Calgary are sitting empty.
Using data from Kijiji, RentFaster.ca and its own operations, Hope Street Real Estate Corporation found that there are currently 8,102 rental properties listed for rent in Calgary, and 37 per cent of those properties do not have a tenant living in them.
"Times are hard for every single landlord with whom I’ve spoken in the past eight to 12 months. Empty rental properties abound and no obvious solution to the province’s empty rental property phenomenon exists," Hope Street CEO Shamon Kureshi said in a press release.
"I have never seen it this grim before."
"I have never seen it this grim before,” Kureshi told Postmedia.
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) says that Calgary's apartment vacancy rate has hit its highest level in 25 years, affected by a weak labour market caused by the oil downturn.
In October, the vacancy rate hit seven per cent – up from 5.3 per cent in the same month last year.
Calgary's vacancy rate this year compared to 2015. (Illustration: CMHC)
"In Calgary, we've had some pronounced job losses. Migration and population growth have also slowed down, which are usually key drivers in terms of housing demand," Richard Cho, principal of market analysis for CMHC, told CBC News.
"We've also seen an increase in rental supply in the market as well. That's also contributed to a rise in the vacancy rate."
The rise in vacancy now puts Calgary in the top five major Canadian centres with the highest rental vacancy rates:
- Saskatoon (10.3 per cent)
- St. John’s (7.9 per cent)
- Edmonton (7.1 per cent)
- Calgary (7.0 per cent)
- Saguenay (7.0 per cent)
In better times, Calgary's vacancy rate sat at around three per cent.
Rental prices are going down, as landlords try to fill their units.
According to CMHC data, a two-bedroom until was renting, on average, for $1,258 in October 2016, compared to $1,332 a year earlier.
In addition to lowering rent prices, more landlords are offering incentives – such as renovations, reduced damage deposits, or gifts – to attract tenants.
A screengrab of Calgary Kijiji rental listings offering incentives and reduced prices.
While Hope Street's data focuses primarily on rental data for private landlords (people who own one to three residential rental properties that often include basement suites or laneway rentals), the CMCH data looks at investor-owned condo buildings and large rental buildings owned and managed by companies.
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"At my open house, the male neighbour next door [was] tanning nude in the backyard. Not discovered until we stepped into the back deck and....well...then there was nothing left to discover." — Phil, a top agent on the North Shore
"When selling my own home, I cleaned thoroughly only to return — post-showing — to my nail clippers out and a stranger's nails in my sink." — Jack Bernard, Vancouver
"In a developer's presentation centre, a buyer used the display bathroom — which had an open ceiling to the centre — for number two. He struggled and was audibly not enjoying it." — Jack Bernard, Vancouver
“One of my agents and I were out with buyers showing them a number of investment properties in my previous market of Sarasota, Florida. Upon entering one 'handyman special,' we were greeted by animal bones and odd markings. Once we got to the living room, we discovered that someone had broken into the home and performed voodoo ceremonies — complete with altar, stones, voodoo dolls, and more bones. Needless to say, the buyer passed on that particular investment." — Bret Calltharp, business development Specialist for Metro Vancouver Properties (RE/MAX)
"People that lift up toilet seats to look under them. What do they expect to see?" — Shawn Anderson, RE/MAX, Vancouver
"The couple next door with the curtains open while enjoying each other vigorously. The buyers thought it nice that people got along in the neighbourhood, but that perhaps (as proven) it might be a bit loud for them and their children." — Phil, a top agent on the North Shore
"A ghost." — Angie, Metro Vancouver realtor
"One seller's decor had coffee cups on everything, including curtains, cupboards, and each individual tile. On our second meeting, I brought them coffee, but they turned it down — as they don't drink coffee." — Jack Bernard, Vancouver
"On occasion (though not recommended), it's OK when people leave a very small, friendly, and cute dog home while having an open house. However, as I was walking a couple through the home, the fluffy little dear decided to show her disapproval on the living room carpet as we entered the room. Clearly, she was not ready to move." — Phil, a top agent on the North Shore
"I was on tour with some buyers in West Van. The listing realtor, who was related to the seller, met us at the property to unlock. He told us to go in and he'd be out in the garden making some calls. The house appeared almost vacant, just a few pieces of furniture around. We went upstairs into one of the bedrooms and turned the lights on — there was an elderly woman sleeping in the bed. My client screamed at the top of her lungs and then the woman in bed started screaming too. My client was so shocked she ran all the way out and got back in the car. I asked the other realtor why he didn't mention someone was there, he said he didn't think we'd notice his tiny Gramma sleeping and she's a deep sleeper so didn't think she'd notice us...wrong!" — Ian Eggleton, Re/Max, North Shore and Downtown Vancouver
"A buyer and I went to a 400 sq.-ft. studio near Collingwood. We arrived early to familiarize ourselves with the area and waited outside for the listing agent. The broker ran awkwardly up to the home and rushed to the elevator and hurried us up to the suite. Once inside he immediately ducked into the bathroom. Due to the small size, the buyer and I finished our viewing in a few moments. There was a long and uncomfortable few minutes where we sat in silence waiting for the listing broker to finish up. We heard an exasperated sigh and flush, he leaned out of the bathroom and said quite excitedly 'Hey, you guys have to come check out these renovations in here!' A quick no thanks, a lot of laughter and we avoided the amenity viewing and decided to move on. One of my more memorable showings and one we still laugh about." — Jack Bernard, Vancouver