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Landlords, tenants facing new reality

Olympics have contributed to abundance of rental units now available

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"The price definitely needs to come down a bit more," said Whistler resident Lynzee Davies. "People need to understand that it's a renter's market now. They (landlords) don't have the upper hand anymore."

Davies and her boyfriend have been looking for a one-bedroom unit to rent for around $1,200 for Aug. 1. They have viewed a dozen suites so far. A few of these have been quasi-suitable units but they're either too small or located under a family home with children running around overhead.

And all these landlords are looking for someone immediately.

"No one will take anything in advance," Davies said. "They need someone in there to pay their mortgage.

"It's like they want us to sign a lease, like, immediately. They think we're going to take it because that's how it's been in the past, when people were fighting for a place. Now, we just have the pick of them."

Zucht says most of the complaints she hears are from people unable to find a suitable home, despite the amount of availability. The suites are generally too expensive. If they're affordable they're probably inadequate.

"Hopefully, this additional pressure and availability will, yeah, put some pressure on landlords to either spruce up their places or bring down the prices," she said.

 

The Olympic effect

The wide-open renter's market is due in part to the Olympics. This past winter, many of the units that would have been held for longer-term rentals were held back for people who were looking to rent during the Olympics. There was a sudden decrease in room availability starting in October and leading up to the Olympics. Zucht heard a number of calls from tenants reporting landlords who weren't renewing leases.

Most of those suites were released earlier than the WHA had expected. Zucht says they saw "more units than normal" come available in April.

But that's only part of it. Zucht says that many of the people moving into the athletes' village/Cheakamus Crossing - both those who bought and those who are renting - are moving out of rented suites starting Aug. 1.

"We're very clearly seeing the impact of all the purchasers that are going into Cheakamus and Rainbow. A clear majority of those are coming out of Whistler rentals, probably 80 per cent, for Cheakamus crossing," Zucht said.

It also has to do with the 400 new ownership units for sale, not just at Cheakamus Crossing but at Fitzsimmons Walk and Rainbow. Most of those units are available through the WHA and aimed at locals.