Government launches online survey to examine the rental landscape in New Brunswick

·3 min read
Participants can take part in the online survey until April 7.  (David Zalubowski/Associated Press - image credit)
Participants can take part in the online survey until April 7. (David Zalubowski/Associated Press - image credit)

Mel Theriault will happily tell the government his thoughts about the rental situation in New Brunswick from a renter's perspective.

It's terrible.

The Saint John resident has been looking for an apartment since before Christmas and hasn't had any luck. He's spent about two months in a hotel. The rest of the time, he's been living with family members.

The search for an apartment has been so difficult, he's been tempted to give up.

"They're so in demand that I'll call a landlord and they'll say, 'OK, you can come and see it.' And then they'll call me back maybe the next day and say somebody took it without even looking."

That's how competitive the market is, said Theriault, who moved to Saint John from Miramichi to be closer to his mother and brother. And while he's growing desperate, he's not quite willing to commit to an apartment that he hasn't even seen.

Mel Theriault has been looking for an apartment in Saint John since before Christmas. Last summer, his mother was forced to move from hers when the new landlord increased rent by $350 per month.
Mel Theriault has been looking for an apartment in Saint John since before Christmas. Last summer, his mother was forced to move from hers when the new landlord increased rent by $350 per month. (Submitted by Mel Theriault)

As his mother learned, already having an apartment is no guarantee either.

Last summer, she was forced to relocate after her apartment building was sold and the new owner raised the rent by $350 per month.

Theriault has already started to outline his family's housing experiences to send to the government.

On Wednesday, as part of its 90-day review of the rental landscape in New Brunswick, the government launched an online survey for renters, landlords and developers.

Its online invitation says, "The provincial government has heard your concerns around rental housing in New Brunswick and is committed to undertaking a thorough review."

Renters, landlords and developers are invited to take part in the online survey and share their stories "about how you have been personally impacted by rental increases, changes in agreements, shortages of accommodations or development costs, we want to hear from you."

The deadline for submissions is April 7.

Coalition for Tenants Rights

Aditya Rao, a member of the New Brunswick Coalition for Tenants Rights, is pleased that the government is undertaking the review, but he said renters need protection now — not after the results of the 90-day review can be analyzed, dissected and acted upon.

He called on the government to impose an immediate moratorium on evictions and a 2 per cent rent increase cap that would extend until the province develops a plan of action — something his group, and others, have been requesting for months.

Otherwise, said Rao, the situation could worsen as developers scoop up even more buildings while the going is good.

"We are seeing the groundwork being laid for a housing crisis that is even worse than it already is," said Rao.

The NB Coalition for Tenants Rights says New Brunswickers are having a tough time finding affordable housing.
The NB Coalition for Tenants Rights says New Brunswickers are having a tough time finding affordable housing. (CBC)

"As we hear about these companies that come in and take over these buildings and turn them into high-rent luxury apartments and take these housing units off of the affordable housing supply in the market.

"In a place like New Brunswick where vacancy rates are especially low, this is a recipe for disaster."

He said tenants in New Brunswick have fewer protections than anywhere else in the country.

"We are quite concerned that this could just drag on," he said. "This has been our concern since the day the review was announced. We've been calling for actions that are immediate."