“Owners are selling their properties because prices are good and tenants are running around to find places, but there’s none on the market – it’s a really bad situation.”

Extremely tight for the past two years, the local rental market is getting worse, with the amount of properties available decreasing and many long-term tenants being evicted, as landlords opt to sell their holdings in a hot real estate market.
“Owners are selling their properties because prices are good and tenants are running around to find places, but there’s none on the market – it’s a really bad situation,” says Raymond Dallaire, whose company R&P Dallaire Inc., located in Hawkesbury, has been managing rental properties throughout Prescott-Russell since 1987. “If you look in the newspaper, there’s nothing for rent.”

R&P Dalliare, which manages more than 300 rental properties throughout the region, receives at least five to 10 calls per day from people looking for apartments or houses for rent. It’s a situation that has been ongoing for the past two years and shows no sign of letting up.

“We have waiting lists and if something comes up on the market I call them back,” the company’s owner says, noting demand is far outstripping supply.

The increase in housing prices has also led to a rise in rental rates, which has affected both the turnover of properties in the area and the ability of people being able to afford them.

“Rents are getting so high – that’s another problem,” Dallaire said, adding that even tenants who might require a larger space are reluctant to move due to increasing prices. “Well-established tenants definitely won’t leave their place, because they have a good price compared to whatever they would have to pay if they moved out of their (current rental).”

Landlords who invest in properties that already have existing tenants are also at risk, as it is difficult for them to turn a profit, Dallaire noted. Unless the owner is planning to move into the property they must respect any existing lease, even if it is not in writing. If they do move in after evicting a tenant, owners must live in the property at least one year before offering it up for rent again.

“If someone is paying $750 a month and there is a new buyer, they cannot increase the rent. They have to respect the agreement that was in place,” Dallaire said. “If they want to move in they have to tell them they have 60 days to move out.”

“But if an investor does that he has to be sure that for at least one year he lives in that place.”

Barry Goudreau found out the hard way this spring how difficult it is to find a new place to rent, when he and his wife were advised last April by their landlord that the townhouse in Hawkesbury they had rented for the past 19 years was being put on the market. The property sold in less than two weeks and they were given until July 4 to move out by the new owner.

Once they started searching, the Goudreau’s realized just how tight the local rental market was.

“We were looking at moving to Cornwall – an hour away – because that’s all there was around,” says Goudreau, who has lived in Hawkesbury for more than 50 years. “All our friends are here, all our family is in this area.”

As non-smoking senior citizens with excellent references from their previous landlords, finding a property should have been simple. But it took months of searching before the Goudreaus were finally able to find a place to rent – just two weeks before they were to be out of their current home. The biggest issue was the couple’s two very small dogs, however a landlord who had a ‘no pets’ policy ultimately called the Goudreaus back and said he would rent to them after all.

While the rent is significantly higher than what their old place, Barry Goudreau said the couple is happy with the new location, which is just blocks from their current townhouse.

“With what we’ve seen in the lack of availability around we said this is something we can deal with,” Goudreau said. “The rent is higher than what we expected to pay, but it has everything we need.”

As for advice to others looking for a place to rent, he says it is important to stay patient and not be afraid to solicit help from family and friends.

“It’s definitely a matter of staying patient,” Goudreau explains. “What really helped us a lot was putting the word out to friends and family that we were looking – not just trying to do it ourselves.”

“We had so many people – friends and family – sending us locations.”

The search for a new home to rent took its toll, particularly as the move date got closer with no solution in sight.

“It really worked on us,” Goudreau says. “But we said we have to go forward.”

“We had a lot of people looking after us too, which helped a lot.”