Some students in too deep in rental market

theweal-newsThis fall, students have been flooding to the newly reduced Calgary rental market, and are running out of options as classes begin this month.

SAITSA vice-president external Ken Taylor has done the math and according to him, several hundred SAIT students are currently left without a home this school year.

“SAIT surveyed 1,200 students, which began Aug. 8 and has been ongoing since, and [as of Aug. 26] 27 people identified as still searching for accommodations,” he said.

“It’s a sampling of about 11 per cent of SAIT’s student body, so you can take that figure and multiply it by about 10, and you suddenly have 300 students looking for a place.”

Taylor explained that if, optimistically, there are many three-bedroom units for rent, a minimum of 100 of these units would still be needed to house the remaining students.

The Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation’s bi-annual rental market statistics put Calgary’s pre-flood vacancy rate in April 2013 at 1.2 per cent.

This is a drop from the April 2012 rate of 2.5 per cent, and differs from Canada’s overall vacancy increase from a 2.3 percent in 2012 to 2.7 percent in 2013.

Taylor said that some of the complaints people have had are that “places are really hard to find, the places they are finding are not legal suites, and people that have gotten into places are paying $100 to $150 more for rent than they were last year.”

Taylor worries that if this is what the numbers of students without housing looks like for SAIT, then numbers might not look much better for the total numer of students across the city searching for accomodations.

Though SAIT’s off-campus housing list is provided to students at all times, Taylor fears that there is “nothing that SAITSA can do to rematerialize lost suites, but we have been talking to media outlets to try and raise awareness about this issue.”

As the vice chair of the Calgary Student Caucus, Taylor and other students are trying to address this issue on a municipal level. His goal is to see the city put rules into place that would make rent more consistent and predictable, and allow for the creation of new legal secondary, or basement, suites that are safer for tenants to reside in.

“I’d like to see it on a municipal stage and to see that they are putting in rental controls, not only to protect students, but for all Calgarians.”

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