Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Rent controls are just not the answer

My friend Daveberta had an interesting post yesterday where he tries to imply that somehow the PC Party actually controls the Premier and that by voting down policy at our AGM to consider rent controls we are forcing Premier Stelmach's hand on the issue. That's an interesting argument but it's (thankfully) not accurate.

The way the policy discussion was structured at this AGM illustrates how important an issue this is to our Party membership. 83 Constituencies submitted Policy Resolutions and then the membership voted on the five most important that would be discussed at the AGM. The mere fact that this was one of the five policies that made it proves how important an issue this is to us.

The fact remains though, that when everything is considered, Rent Control is not a solution to Alberta's Housing Crisis.

As a renter I struggle with this issue, but I do try to see it from the view of the Albertan property owner as well. If you have a property that you rent out, I assume that you do so not as a service to Albertans but to make a profit, to secure your families lively hood, or to create a safe future for your retirement. With rising costs, utilities, property taxes, higher wages for maintenance workers, higher contract costs for upkeep and the legal fees associated with renting - what would motivate someone to continue to rent (especially with property prices at an all time high) if they could not meet all these new needs, rising bills AND still support their families and the goals they set out to achieve when deciding to invest in rental properties?

Further, why on earth would any developer or potential owner even build new rental units if rent controls were in place? Why not just build condos or houses and sell them - at least you will get market value for them.

Nothing is cheap in our province, and I suspect (knowing a few) that most landlords are good people who have families to support and bills to pay, just like us. We do need to find a solution - one that works for all Albertan's - and in the mean time find a way to support the lowest income members of our province who are having the hardest time dealing with these rising costs. But rent control is not the answer.

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