This research document was written by Hugh Grant, of the University of Manitoba, in January 2011. The text below is an excerpt from that report. Follow the link at the bottom to read the full report.
Manitoba has recently experienced a significant decline in the vacancy rate for rental accommodation. Between 1997 and 2001, rates in both Manitoba and Canada fell precipitously from over 4.5% to under 2%. The rate in Canada subsequently rebounded to the 3% range, but has remained low in Manitoba, falling to 0.9% in October 2010. With the exception of Portage la Prairie, low vacancy rates exist throughout urban centres in the province.
The apparent tightness in the rental market in Manitoba has prompted renewed attention to the province’s rent regulations. Some critics have argued that the regulations are to blame for the rental housing shortage: by reducing the rate of return on housing investment, the abandonment of existing rental units or their conversion to condominium ownership has accelerated, and the rate of new construction has slowed. In contrast, tenant organization and social policy advocates have called for policies complementary to rent regulations-including greater control over the conversion of rental units to condominium ownership-as a means of maintaining an adequate supply.
In light of these concerns, this study considers the impact of the Manitoba rent regulation program (The Residential Tenancies Act, Residential Rent Regulation) on the rental housing market in Manitoba. The objectives are to:
- review the economic literature of rent regulations and their implications for the rental housing market;
- describe Manitoba rent regulation program and compare it to similar programs in other Canadian provinces;
- assess the impact of Manitoba’s rent regulation on the rental housing market;
- provide a broader account of the factors influencing the market for rental housing in Manitoba; and
- conclude by examining the role of Manitoba’s rent regulations in achieving an appropriate balance between the tenant’s security of tenure and the landlord’s claim to an adequate return on investment.