Increase aims to force people out for condo conversion, woman says
"For it to go up that much, it’s not a rental increase, they’re trying to get rid of us."
Marni Armstrong figured a rent hike was on the horizon, but she was stunned to get a letter from her landlord informing her the rent was about to rise 240 per cent.
The 28-year-old Calgary Health Region kinesiologist was paying $625 per month — and she knew she was getting a pretty good deal at her apartment at 534 — 20 Ave SW — but when she received the letter Nov. 1 informing her the rent would rise to $1,500 per month, she figured something was up.
“I did have a good deal on rent, but for it to go up that much, it’s not a rental increase, they’re trying to get rid of us,” said the former Vancouver resident who has been living in Calgary for 2 ½ years. “I think we need to call a spade a spade.”
Armstrong said it seemed odd that the day tenants in her building received the notices she said major renovation work — which still appeared to be ongoing — started to move full steam ahead and that residents had already moved into one of the new ‘condos’. She believes the entire building is being converted to condominiums for sale.
According to Calgary-Currie Liberal MLA and opposition housing critic Dave Taylor there are 11 buildings within a three-block radius of Armstrong’s Cliff Bungalow Mission-area building that have been, or will be converted to condos over the past 12 months.
Taylor believes Armstrong’s situation is a prime case where the landlord is using a legal loophole to turn a rental building into condos without giving the legislated one-year notice to tenants.
He said the loophole allows landlords to apply to change a rental building to condominiums, get a license to do so, then, according to Taylor, “they can simply give people three months notice that they’re going condo or that their rent is going through the roof.”
Armstrong feels lucky — she has a place to sublet for the next six months. But she knows another tenant that’s moving back to Winnipeg because they can’t afford the rent increase, nor make the condo purchase.
Metro queried the spokesman for the building owner on the motive behind the rapid rent increase. However, those inquiries went unanswered by press time.