Despite doubling vacancy rates in the city, Calgarians are still forking out as much as they were a year ago in rent, according to a rental market survey.
Vacancy rates jumped to 4.3 per cent in April 2009, compared to two per cent in April 2008 but the cost of rent for a two-bedroom apartment only decreased from $1,096 last year to $1,106 this year, says a Calgary market analyst.
Lai Sing Louie, senior market analyst for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, said the vacancy rates reflect the downturn in the economy.
“A lower level of employment is impacting the demand for units in the rental market. It allows people to shop around because there isn’t as much pressure,” Louie said.
While the executive director of the Calgary Apartment Association acknowledges average rental costs don’t appear to have decreased on the surface, Gerry Baxter said it is actually a renter’s market despite the prices.
“People have more time to look around, more choices to choose from and many landlords are offering rental incentives,” Baxter said. “Some landlords will give a month free rent, for example.”
Those incentives don’t sit well with 24-year-old Dana Leighton, who is searching for an apartment she can afford on her $16 an hour job, a hunt she says hasn’t been easy.
“I’d rather have lower monthly rent than one month free. One month free is nice, but what about the other 11 months?” she said, adding she might have to rent a bedroom instead of an apartment.
But Baxter said rental rates are just one aspect of the bigger picture.
“Calgary is an expensive place to live and it costs money to live here.”