Calgary tenants say rent raised amidst ‘horrific’ living conditions

Residents in a Beltline apartment building don’t think it’s fair their landlord raised rents while the building is undergoing some massive renovations.

The outside of Panorama Court along 15 Avenue near 6 Street SW has been wrapped in scaffolding since last fall, which has lead to sweltering conditions in the summer heat, as there’s little to no room for airflow off people’s balconies.

Stephanie Haynes, who helped to organize a protest outside the building Thursday, says she and other tenants are picketing against the building’s sweltering heat, ongoing, loud building construction, and increases to rent.

In a message announcing the protest, organizers called their living conditions “horrific.”

Haynes was part of the group that started a tenant union at Panorama Court as a way to raise concerns with the landlord.

She says recently, her rent went up 30 per cent.

“What we’re looking for is our rent to return pre-construction rates for the duration of the project,” she said. “We also want rental rebates for this period of time we’ve payed the rental increase.”

The organizer adds that someone in her building is dealing with a $600/month increase to their rent.

‘Horrific’ living conditions

Haynes says the landlord has provided air conditioners for some tenants to deal with the heat vacuum, but not all.

In a statement to CityNews, the building owner GWL Realty Advisors says that the building renovations are unrelated to the rent going up, and that it has been increased “to better align with market rates.”

The company says the “significant work” being done to the building was to address the structural integrity of the building envelop.

It adds that “as an older building, these types of capital improvements are necessary for the health and safety of our residents and are mandated by city regulations.”

GWL Realty Advisors claims that most of the work has been completed, and the remaining scaffolding on the north side of the building will be taken down by the end of the month.

It also says that for safety reasons, it was necessary to temporarily restrict residents’ access to their balconies.

“We recognize that building construction is disruptive to our residents and during this process we made several accommodations to mitigate the impact of the construction including offering portable air conditioners to those residents in units directly impacted,” the company said in a statement to CityNews.

The owners say security to the building was also increased.

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