I remember how housing prices went up 60% in one year alone. My house went up in value by nearly $100,000. I said it then and I say it now: it made sense as people were paying more to live in the same place with no other discernible benefits. I still can’t decide whether the stranger thing at the time was the fact that prices could go up in SK or that people were voluntarily moving to the province.
This brings me to the topic of this post: rent controls. You see, the effect of the real estate boom on rental properties was particularly felt. All of a sudden, rental homes began to be converted and sold. Then with no new rental suites being constructed, the city began experiencing low single digit rental vacancies.
Saskatchewan has no rent controls. So what happened next could have been predicted. Owners began to jack up rent prices to take advantage of high demand or as a way to evict renters in hopes of selling. I knew people who faced hundreds of dollars in rent increases in one month. And where was the NDP govt on this issue?
To make things worse, no-one in the province seemed to care enough to force and change. The result? A lot of people found out what it’s like to live in a garage.
I find it particularly rich that, now in opposition, the SK NDP is calling on the govt to do what they did not in all those years in power: install rent controls.
But according to the story, a change is not on the radar for government. And here is the rationale for not doing anything:
Social Services Minister Donna Harpauer stated:
"Because what happens — and studies have shown — where rent controls have been implemented fewer developers will build multi-door units, as well as the landlords will not necessarily maintain the units they have, using the excuse that they don't have enough revenue from those units," Harpauer told reporters.
Apparently, Ms. Harpauer has no idea what has been taking place in the hottest real estate markets in Canada. Both BC and Ontario have had rent controls for years. And have they inhibited new development or resulted in dilapidation? No! Vancouver and Toronto remain the most expensive places to live in Canada. Rack up another giant DUH for SK.