Rent in Prince Rupert is going up. In the last year, the average rent increased by $132.
“This should be of major concern to Prince Rupert, since 40 per cent of our folks rent – specifically, there are 4,720 households in Prince Rupert and 1,920 of the households are renters,” Paul Lagace, a poverty law advocate at the Prince Rupert Unemployed Action Centre, wrote in an email.
“I am most concerned that even with the recent Income Assistance (IA) increases (which I was happy to see) that a single person cannot afford to rent. One does not have to be a mathematician to recognize that you can’t stretch $710 in IA monies, to rent an $809 one-bedroom apartment.”
The average monthly rent for bachelor, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments in Prince Rupert rose from $543 to $622, $675 to $812 and $781 to $913 within the last year. The jump was revealed in the latest rental statistics by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
In comparison, the average rent in Terrace went down across the board. Bachelor apartments went down from $571 to $537, one-bedroom apartments from $707 to $690 and two-bedroom apartments $913 to $828.
It’s getting harder to find a place to rent in Prince Rupert, and more expensive. The report also shows vacancy rate for rental units have decreased. The current 5.3 per cent availability rate is down from 5.9 the previous year.
The real question, Lagace said, is why rent has increased so much in the last year. He said a loophole in leases was one way that landlords were able to get around the maximum amount rent was allowed to increase annually.
“A number of landlords across the province were using fixed-term leases on their long-term tenants, in order to jack-up their rents,” Lagace wrote in an email on Dec. 11. “The good news is that loophole is closed as of today. ‘Effective December 11, 2017, a tenancy agreement may only include a requirement that the tenant vacate the rental unit at the end of a fixed term (under certain circumstances).’
“Fortunately now, with the housing minister’s recent announcement, there is some protection in place for all Prince Rupert renters – with or without any major project development,” Lagace said.
The housing market shows a similar trend. The Canadian Real Estate Association shows the number of housing units sold was down by 24.1 per cent from the third quarter of 2016 to the third quarter of 2017. However, the median price of those sales rose by 17.5 per cent.
Before the tent city outside of Prince Rupert city hall packed up the 20-day protest, the Northern View spoke to several of the encampment’s residents.
Lagace invites anyone who believes their landlord is not abiding by the new tenancy legislations to see him at the Prince Rupert Unemployed Action Centre.