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Rosemont rents went up by 25% over 2005-2010 at a time when Régie guidelines would’ve allowed for a 4.6% increase.
Martin, Alison Cummins, Jack, and 1 other are discussing. Toggle Comments
Not quite. From examples in the article, the increase seems more along the lines of 8%.
The 25% figure seems to apply only to the 728 rent increases that renters were worried enough about to contact Le Comité logement de la Petite-Patrie.
Even there, it’s an overestimate. They added up the increases they saw for individual renters each year to come up with an estimate for the borough, but that’s not justified by their sampling system.
You’ve been happily renting away, paying an annual $5 increase or sometimes none at all for the past ten years. Your nice landlord sells in 2005 and I, your evil landlord, buy the building and promptly serve you with a rent increase of $100. You go to the comité for help and you become one of their 2005 statistics: rent increase of 25%. You didn’t complain in 2004; in 2005 you successfully contested the rent increase and paid only an 8% increase; and while your rent went up a little more than the recommended rate in 2006-10, an average of 4% per year, you’ve decided to live with it.
In 2006 I buy your neighbour’s place. Same story. She goes to the Comité, who duly note a rent increase of 25% for 2006.
In 2007 I buy your ex’s place, and you are happy thinking that we deserve one another. Same story. The comité now has a 25% data point for 2007.
When the comité adds up their individual data points, they determine that rents have increased by a whopping 75% increase in just three years! Except that nobody in this case actually paid a 75% increase. Three different people were served with 25% increases and they all successfully contested. Over the course of those three years, the greatest total increase was 17%. Still a lot, but not nearly 75%.
Even if I assume that nobody successfully contested, we’re still talking only a 35% increase over those three years.
If I really wanted to make a point, I’d go back and include the seven previous years you’d been paying a 1.5% increase.
Anyway. People throwing nonsense figures together to tell a story. I hate that: it discredits a perfectly good story about housing stock, changing neighborhoods and people with nowhere to go.
If you (the comité) don’t think the truth is compelling enough, you would know. I’ll ignore you.
So just bring out the unembellished figures why don’t you, and explain why they matter and who’s affected. Use your expertise to develop our understanding.
Hi Alison, your worries are legitimate, but these figures are also legitimate. They are confirmed by similar figures in neighbourhoods that are experiencing heavy gentrification, in Montreal, or any other place in the world. Take for instance statistics published by the census tracts, or by the SMHC, and you will see over a 10 year span average increases around 3-4% per year in Montreal. Now that is an average for the island; it thus makes sense that in a sector under heavy speculation, such as La Petite Patrie, the increases are more important. Disclosure: I work for the comité logement that produced these stats. Thanks to Kate for bringing up this article.
The thing about apartments is that its often preferable to make a compromise and stay on good terms with your landlord than to go to the Régie. Even if you win your case, the landlord will probably try and make life miserable for you in other ways. Plus, do you really want to rent from someone who you have a conflict with?
If the landlord doesn’t take care of the building, whether or not he decides to increase the rent, your quality of life is going to go steadily down year by year. So rather than creating a conflict, you’re often best to try to get the guy as a reference and just move out (most landlords will do this, but none will if you start a legal battle).
This is also in the interest of renters to some degree. You want a picky landlord who won’t rent to just anyone, because you want to live in a building that has more permanent residents (=more stability, better repairs, better relationship with the landlord). Slumlords make money by maintaining a high turnover in what would otherwise be low profit-margin properties, renting indiscriminately to a dodgy clientèle they can easily fraud and evict.
Hi I couldn’t link to who produced those stats.Thanks Allison you did a tremendous job deconstructing what are simply anomalies. Martin thanks for admitting who you work for, I will look at your statistical construct the same way I look at any organization that has a vested interest in what they produce, like the Fraser Institute, A.E.I,etc. etc. Martin one question I have who pays the rent and salaries for the comitee des logements on the island?
Hi Jack, these stats are not simple anomalies. The kind of anomalies that Alison worries about are theoretical and her worries are thus legitimate in a theoretical sense. But in practice, rents are raising faster than inflation, from whichever way you look at it. I know where you come from and I know you worry about landlords making a profit, but making a profit is no reason for impoverishing others. And I also know it is possible to meet both desires: making a reasonable profit and not impoverishing tenants. But the fact is that tenants are being unjustly squeezed in the last 10 years, a fact that is confirmed by many independent studies and by most if not all governmental agencies working on the matter. And please, don’t throw mud in the water by asking rhetorical questions about our salaries and rents. The Comité logements are highly respected by community organizations in Montreal and Quebec, you won’t find anything of interest here. Our vested interests, as you want to call our social commitments, is defending the poor and poorests. If you really want to know, most of the money comes from groups like Centraide and a smaller part from governmental programmes.
Thanks for replying.
I’m not saying your cause is not worthy or that there isn’t a problem or that rents are not increasing faster than inflation.
The reason the bad math annoys me is that *I want you to look good.*
The way your math is presented in the Journal makes you look bad, as though somebody thought that good intentions justifed blowing smoke, or possibly that you have someone with no training in statistics reporting your statistics. Both of those conclusions are credibility-killers. The way the article suggests the information was collected does not enable you to present it the way you did. If you don’t have the data to support a blanket statement about rents (which you don’t appear to) then don’t act like you do. If you do have it, present it clearly. Tell the story that is supported by the data, don’t twist the data to tell a story you think is more dramatic-sounding.
Disclosure: I genuinely am an evil landlord in La Petite Patrie. I need to raise rents to cover my costs. I raised them aggressively for the first five years, but then a tenant moved out so we were able to renovate that apartment and rent it out for more than double the previous rent. This means we don’t have to raise rents on the others the same way any more. Ideally one other tenant would move out and we could have two high-rent tenants subsidizing two low-rent tenants, which feels like a good compromise to me. One of our tenants is a retiree and I want to be able to provide a home for her for as long as she needs it, which I can’t do if I have to raise her rent faster than her pension income increases. Still, that means two fewer low-rent apartments available in the neighbourhood and a change in the character of the neighbourhood.
I am an evil landlord too and I think what irks is living in a place like Villeray, near the Market and having long term tenants ( who are super nice people!). Who you refer to as being ” unjustly squeezed” , they have seen their rents explode at less than the rate of inflation and in no correlation to exploding municipal.school and insurance costs.The idea that I make a substantial “profit” being a resident landlord is a joke. I respect your work and agree that the least amongst us should be protected and have a voice. sometimes that voice is a two income couple( Quebec Civil Service) paying $ 13 a day for their housing.
Alison, the journalist made an error in reporting the stats. In fact, it was 728 increases only for the year 2010, a similar number than previous years. The sampling cases are thus 5 times higher than the one suggested by the article. Another thing is that these stats are important to state since they are local, and supplement other stats that are publicly available for everyone. I wouldn’t say therefore that it is bad math. It’s a good portrait of a bigger picture.
And to both Alison and Jack: I never said you are evil. I have no idea where you got that in my reply, as well as in the article itself, which pointed at a bigger structural problem, in part because rental housing stock is in diminution – the journal in which the article was printed had 3 articles on housing in Rosemont Petite Patrie – and in part because of gentrification – a problem that both your replies never addressed. Sure, there exists owners who behave correctly. Nobody said there wasn’t any.
No, you didn’t say I was evil! The “evil landlord” is a conventional figure in english, and I often call myself that because I understand that this is my position in relation to my tenants, even though I would like to think of myself as a nice person and even though I care about where and how “my” tenants live.
Sorry, I didn’t mean to sound defensive. As long as everyone else was offering full disclosure, I wanted to disclose honestly as well: I am a landlord, which like it or not can put me in conflict with the interests of my tenants. (Thus, I am the “evil landlord.”) As you say, sometimes the problems are structural and I am simply the available target for bitter complaints about things I can’t do anything about. (Yep, the “evil landlord” is me.)
I agree that the rate of rent increase is a problem, and while you didn’t say so, I am part of the problem. When I sit in a McDonald’s with an old guy who lived all his life in La Petite Patrie but has had to move into a highrise in St-Michel where he’s afraid of the gangs, I think of my shiny renovated apartment that I rented out to two shiny childless young people from the suburbs for twice the rent that he used to pay to live in the same neighbourhood.
The math is still bad. It’s not primarily a question of sample size, it’s the sampling method where your sample consists entirely of people who are sufficiently worried about their rent increases to contact you. My “theoretical worry” above is based on this criticism.
According to the article: «les hausses enregistrées dans Rosemont par le comité logement sont de 3,8 % en 2011, 4 % en 2010 et de 9,8 % en 2009.» That is, people are reporting being worried about smaller rent increases today than they were three years ago. I see no reason to doubt this data, and can think of several possible explanations:
1) Maybe rent increases are smaller now than they were two years ago. Maybe landlords have less money to do renovations, so can’t justify increases; maybe there are fewer new owners desperately trying to recover costs; maybe people are poorer and landlords don’t even try to increase rents the way they did just two years ago. Maybe tenants aren’t moving as much, creating less opportunity for large rent increases.
2) Maybe rent increases are smaller now than they were two years ago, but only as an artifact. Maybe the nicer, larger apartments have been converted into condos and have dropped out of your rental unit statistics. Maybe your data this year just reflect the people staying in small apartments, not moving into somewhere aspirational.
3) Maybe the average rent increase this year is the same as it was two years ago (or even larger), but two years ago only people with big increases went to you. Maybe people are so strapped for cash that even the smallest rent increase is a problem. This year everyone’s going to you no matter what the increase was because every penny counts.
4) Maybe the average rent increase this year is the same as it was two years ago (or even larger) and people are no richer or poorer than they were two years ago, but maybe you’ve been able to promote your services more actively. You have a new, easy-to use website and more people have web access than they did two years ago. So whereas two years ago you only saw very distressed people who sought you out, this year you are seeing people who are less distressed but think there’s no harm in contesting.
5) Maybe the average rent increase this year is larger than it was two years ago, because yuppies are moving in from the Plateau. They’re used to paying huge rents so their landlords take advantage and jack the rents up as much as they dare. The yuppies don’t contest, they’re just happy because they are still paying less than they used to. The people contesting are the ordinary working-class folk in small apartments with small rent increases.
Because there are so many different ways to explain the variation in rent increase that people have been going to you with, it’s not possible to simply add up the average increases that people report to you in each year and say that overall, rents have increased 17.6% (which is also wrong, by the way: it should be 18.5% because you don’t use straight addition for percentages) in three years.
I’m not denying that rents have increased. I’m just saying that the data you collected in the way you did can tell an interesting story, but it can’t tell the story that the article says it does. For that story you need data collected in a different way.
For instance, your data show that the average rent increase your clientele complained about in 2011 was 3.8%. This compares with the 5.5% average increase estimated by the SCHL for RPP.
That sounds to me like a terrible story about an expanding gap between rich and poor. If you let the SCHL estimate the averages, you can tell a more complex story by comparing your data thoughtfully. So do that.
Simply adding your percentages up on a calculator is bad math.
Thanks for your long reply Alison and I would only add two small things. I myself have been from the start quite reluctant about using these numbers the way they were reported, for the reasons you stated, but they really tell the right story and in the end, the reporter wanted that story. I will however keep in mind your arguments for better research, as it’s in the end what I strongly believe in.
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