Jan 20, 2016, CBC News -
It's a tenant's market, the Saskatchewan Landlord Association says, after vacancy rates doubled in Saskatoon over the last year.
"We have to fight for our tenants. It's a tenant's market," executive officer with the landlord association, Chanda Lockhart, said.
According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the vacancy rate went from 3.4 per cent in October 2014 to 6.5 per cent in 2015.
"It just has escalated in the months of November, December, and January," she said. "There has been a slight turn around now — the call volume is increasing a little bit. However it's going to be quite a while before it turns around."
Lockhart said there has been a large increase in houses and condominiums being built, but they are not being sold. The properties are being flipped into rentals, escalating the market where, Lockhart said, there is "not room for more rentals".
"The only thing that's probably going to fix that, for the most part, is going to be a lot less housing built in spring, which I know construction is not going to want to hear, or the real estate market picking up," she said.
"If the real estate market picks up and that excess stock starts getting sold, whether it's the houses or the condos, then the rental market will even out again because we will have a better playing field of rentals."
CMHC credits a combination of weaker economic conditions, elevated new home inventory, and competition from a well-supplied resale market as cause for the change.
Lockhart said although rental prices are not significantly dropping, landlords are creating incentives to lure renters. Larger rental companies are advertising and offering things like two months free rent, while small scale landlords are sitting tight.
"They can't afford to lower their rent or offer huge incentives because their rent covers mortgage and property taxes," she said.
For tenants, that means the ability to shop around and check on offers.
"These options haven't been available for a good 12 to 14 years. It's been a long time since there [have] been options like this for a tenant," she said.
But incentives don't fix the problem of vacancy rates, it just creates competition for tenants, Lockhart said.
Lockhart said she doesn't expect to see any relief until spring 2017.