STOP rent gouging and Notices of Default/Evictions at a time of high profits by landlords

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STOP rent gouging and Notices of Default/Evictions at a time of high profits by landlords in Calgary, Edmonton and other places in Alberta - including at a time of COVID-19

My name is Anne Landry. I live in Calgary, Alberta CANADA.  I can’t afford high rent increases – especially in Calgary’s and Alberta’s challenging economy and at a time of COVID-19.  I think this is true for many people in Alberta.

Renters in Calgary, Edmonton and across Alberta need protection:

1.  NO increased rents and NO notices of rent increases in 2020. The Alberta Residential Tenancies Act allows landlords to raise rents by as much as they want 1 time per year/365 days.

2.  NO evictions in 2020.

3.  Decrease of rent by highly profitable landlords to 2016-2017 levels or LESS.

4.  Implement a NEW Mental Health-Affordable Housing Fund to alleviate unaffordable rents and a NEW Mental Health-Affordable Housing Property Tax/fine to landlords to STOP rent gouging and inappropriate notices of default/evictions by landlords.

See protection of renters in: Calgary Economic Development Housing Affordability in Calgary - 2018 and  Housing in Canada’s Big Cities – The City of Calgary – May 2018.

See The City of Calgary’s mental health, addiction prevention and crime prevention strategy–August 1, 2018; #BUYLOCALYYC; and Calgary’s Comeback.

Boardwalk REIT  - a large multi-family apartment landlord in Canada - is apparently planning to raise rents by 4% to 7% in 2020 as per the guidance to its investors – at a time of its high and increasing ~56%+ net profits on operations – see Boardwalk REIT Q4 2019 Press Release February 27, 2020Boardwalk REIT is also a member of the Community Housing Affordability Collective (CHAC).

Imagine the benefit to the community/local businesses of keeping  the $40/mo, $70/mo, $185+/mo rent increases in the hands of renters instead of being distributed as profits to Boardwalk REIT’s unit holders trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Note Businesses on 17th Avenue S.W. in Calgary near Boardwalk REIT Skygate Tower that CLOSED prior to COVID-19:  Boston Pizza;  Purolator;  Kentucky Fried Chicken; Small Flower flower shop after 32+ years... Let’s make it a WIN-WIN-WIN for Renters and the Community as well as Landlords!

 

MY STORY

I have received notice from Boardwalk REIT of effective rent increase of $185/mo (17.4%) for 2020 for the 1 Bedroom & Den I have rented for the past 22+ years at Boardwalk REIT Skygate Tower in the Beltline in Calgary, Alberta.    I received a Notice of Default on February 7, 2020 that I paid in protest. I am currently unemployed and suffering from and trying to recover from post traumatic stress.  I will soon be a senior. I have paid Boardwalk REIT over $260,000 in rent over the past 22+ years.  Now, almost 6 months since Boardwalk REIT's September 30, 2019 rent increase notice to me, I am STILL trying to resolve the high rent increase for 2020 with Sam Kolias, Boardwalk REIT CEO and Chairman of the Board.

 

BACKGROUND

Boardwalk REIT lowered rents by 20%-25% at the time of high vacancy during the recession in 2016 when many were unemployed: Calgary's rental vacancy rate reaches highest level in two decades - CTV - November 28, 2016.  From December 1, 2016 to November 30, 2017 I paid $979/mo for a 1 Bedroom and Den at Boardwalk REIT’s Skygate Tower - now “market rents” are $1,349/mo to $1,449/mo: a 38% to 48% increase over the past approximately 2 years.

"Many of the operating costs associated with multi-family real estate are static regardless of periods of cyclicality. As our core market of Alberta enters the early stages of cyclical growth, the majority of incremental revenue is anticipated to flow directly to NOI." [Emphasis added] - see Boardwalk REIT Q2 2018 Press Release August 13, 2018, pg. 3. So why the high rents - especially during times of adversity and the distress of many?

I should NOT have to repeatedly spend so much stress time and effort – including in the media – to ensure that my rent is affordable, the terms of my lease are upheld and my apartment is safe:

1.  In Calgary, a builder emphasis on rental puts pressure on existing tenants – Globe and Mail – January 16, 2020.  See my comment (#9).

2. Calls for Calgary rent control – CTV – January 17, 2020.  STOP the stress of rent "negotiations". What about seniors?

3. I spoke  regarding affordable housing/rent gouging before The City of Calgary Council on November 25, 2019 at the time of the Budget Cuts. CLICK for video  (I start at approximately 4 hours, 16 minutes)

4. Tenants of Boardwalk property in Calgary demand more security – CTV – July 3, 2019.  We no longer have the stated security guards:  security is apparently back to “On-call” despite that the Beltline is the community in Calgary with the highest crime/disorder in 2019 and 2018.

·5. Boardwalk Rentals’ removal of on-site managers angers apartment tenants – CBC – December 16, 2015.

·6. Rental giant backs off on separate billing – Calgary Herald, Kelly Cryderman – March 11, 2009 at a time that Boardwalk REIT provided Notices of Default to tenants who did NOT pay submetering charges at a time that power was clearly including in the rent as per rental leases.  Occurred during the 2009 Recession when Sam and Van Kolias became in the TOP 100 wealthiest in Canada:  Rich get richer while Canada sheds jobs – Calgary Herald, Financial Post – November 20, 2009  - while Boardwalk REIT’s rental units decreased as per Boardwalk REIT 2018 Annual Report.