Saturday, January 19, 2008
Marni Armstrong says her landlord used a
legal "loophole" to force tenants out and convert the building into
A Calgary tenant whose rent was nearly tripled blasted the Stelmach
government for not protecting renters after a provincial investigation
found her landlord did not break Alberta rules for condo conversions.
The investigation had been launched after Marni Armstrong suspected her
rent hike to $1,500 monthly from $600 a month was to hasten a condo
conversion in her Mission building.
CREDIT: Leah Hennel, Calgary
Marni Armstrong says her landlord
used a legal "loophole" to force tenants out and convert the
building into condos.
Armstrong received three months' notice for the rent increase, but a
condo conversion under Alberta government regulations is supposed to
require one year's warning and no rent hikes during that time.
Virtually every tenant who got the increase has left the building while
at least one unit has already been sold as a condo, said Armstrong, who
is among those who moved.
An application for a condo permit for 10 units was filed with the City
of Calgary in September -- almost two months before notice of the rent
increase arrived -- and given final approval at the end of November.
A Calgary company was hired by the building's owner to prepare a condo
plan and started working on it in June.
Real estate agents have been coming to the building to look at units,
Still, the province found nothing the landlord did broke Alberta rules.
Eoin Kenny, a spokesman for Service Alberta, said the hike didn't break
the rules because the landlord wasn't specifically asking his tenants to
If a tenant then decides to leave, the landlord can do as he pleases
with the vacant unit -- including convert it to a condo without having
to give one year's notice, Kenny said.
As for whether the landlord was trying to get around the demand for one
year's warning, Kenny said it's impossible to know the landlord's
"I can't look into the landlord's heart and know what his intentions
are," he said.
Jason Shire, who works for Armstrong's landlord, Castle Mountain
Properties, would only say "the government has ruled."
Shire hung up when asked whether Castle Mountain Properties raised rents
to push tenants out for a condo conversion.
Armstrong said there's no question in her mind.
"Fifteen hundred dollars wasn't a rent increase, it was to get rid of
us, and the government's saying it's OK to do that," Armstrong said.
"It's an economic eviction, but they don't have anything to protect
anybody from that."
Liberal MLA and housing critic Dave Taylor criticized the provincial
rules as being toothless, saying it was too easy for landlords to skirt
"It's hard to break rules that are written in favour of the landlord,"
he said. "Are we serious about protecting tenants or are we not? I have
to conclude the Conservatives are not."
Armstrong is now subletting a two-bedroom Beltline apartment from a
friend for $850 a month. She's still upset the province found nothing
"I don't know if loophole is the best word, but that's what it is," she
© The Calgary Herald 2008
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CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications,
Inc.. All rights reserved.