Calgary renters struggle to find a place to live, landlords control the rental market

Bidding wars and cash incentives are all perks Calgary landlords are seeing, as the city’s rental market becomes more competitive than ever. Jillian Code reports.

It’s a landlord’s market when it comes to finding a place to live in Calgary. Some applicants are waging bidding wars, and others are offering what they can to try and stand out in a sea of renters.

Romania Leo, owner of Real Property Management Ace, says renters with pets, families, or young children are having the most trouble finding a place.

“So we have some people who say ‘what if I pay six months upfront or one year upfront?'” Leo said. “So those are definitely more attractive to certain owners, some owners — it doesn’t matter, as long as they’ve got a solid working history.”

Leo says inner city rentals are always in high demand, but that demand is now spreading to suburban areas.

She says potential renters should lower their expectations and be prepared to pay more as the rental market continues to grow.

“People want to rent these days because they don’t want to be tied down. They want flexibility,” Leo explained.

Leo adds with so many applicants, landlords are getting picky about who they’ll allow to rent their property. Some applicants are upping the ante, offering an additional $50 to $150 on their monthly rent, or throwing in cash up front as an incentive.


Dawn McKinnon spent months looking for a place to rent, and says a landlord refused to rent to her because someone else offered $250 up front. She adds she had references from previous landlords confirming her reliability of paying her monthly rent on time.

“Sometimes it’s just not enough. Somebody will step up and be like ‘oh well I’m gonna pay a little bit more right now, and that’s how I’m gonna stand out.’ Not everybody has that — $250, $500, or even just to casually up their rent monthly. That’s just not doable.”

McKinnon started looking for a rental in mid May, and she had to adjust her budget to find a place. She said the process was more grueling than anticipated because she has a child and a pet.

“Having the dog — I expected (pushback),” McKinnon said. “But to have people turn me away because I have an 11-year-old son — which happened a couple times — (with) them saying ‘we don’t want to have a kid living in the suite.'”

McKinnon says she eventually found a place by applying in-person. She adds being personable in your application will help increase your chances of finding a place to rent. Leo agrees.

“It’s always a bubble that won’t last,” Leo explained. “The quality of tenant is way more important than selecting someone who is going to say ‘I’ll pay more.'”

With files from Tiffany Goodwein

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