Mayor wants landlords to ease up

Just because you can rent out your basement suite for $2,500, doesn’t mean you should.

Just because you can rent out your basement suite for $2,500, doesn’t mean you should.

That’s the word from Terrace mayor Dave Pernarowski, who, along with other members of Terrace city council, have been speaking with residents who are increasingly anxious about either finding a place to live or coping with rising costs amidst an increasingly tight rental market.

“Taking advantage of a strong economy market is one thing, but setting rental prices that are negatively affecting our community and makes us appear to be greedy and insensitive is a problem,” wrote Pernarowski in a response to a local resident lamenting the area’s sky-rocking rents on the mayor’s public Facebook group.

Expanding on his comments later, Pernarowski acknowledged that “it’s a fine balance and a bit of a tough statement, because certainly I understand market conditions, and when the market was tough in Terrace, those landlords were not, in a lot of cases, seeing any renters at all and were certainly charging dollars that were a lot lower.

“Market conditions would allow them to upgrade their units and charge more money but it just seems to me that there are some, I’ll say, that perhaps are taking advantage of a situation,” he continued, emphasizing that’s not the case for all landlords.

“And you know, I think that we could probably do much better as a community if we were to ensure that we’ve got appropriately priced rental units in place so that everybody’s able to afford to continue to live in the community.”

The city has encouraged more housing through bylaws aimed at a variety of suites and new developments and has been trying to encourage developers to build accommodation containing both market rental housing and housing meant for lower income earners.

Pernarowski is confident that there will be a fair amount of construction happening this summer that will add to the housing stock.

“I think we’re going to see this as a short-term situation,” he said of the housing crunch. “Once a few of these developments are built we’ll see the market start to even out.”

Pernarowski isn’t in favour of rent controls, preferring to let the market operate the way that it does, but does say it’s important to look beyond a pure business model.

“I always try to get people to consider community as well as bottom line in any sort of business situation,” he said. “It’s often tough to do because, again, it’s market driven – if somebody’s wanting to come in and pay $2,500 for a little basement suite and that’s what they can get to rent (that’s what they’re going to do).”

Pernarowski is confident landlords will be able to make up for any lost returns when the economy here was depressed as industrial activity here continues to pick up.

“We’ll have lots of opportunity over the many years forward to take really good advantage of the economic development and activity in our region and in our city,” he said. “There’s going to be many years for landlords to make up for some of the lost years that rents were relatively low in Terrace.”