The housing and rent market has been causing headaches for many people for several years, and more troubles could soon be on the way for some Strathmore residents.
Community members Nancy and Rikkie Piche are currently living at the Savana Apartments on Westmount drive. A week ago, they received a letter from their landlord, SEMCA development, stating that they will be no longer offering rental units. However, tenants will have the option to buy their unit if they wish to do so.
The Savana Apartments are complexes with A & B building units. There are no kids, no pets and no smoking. SEMCA development will honor the lease agreements that have been signed by the tenants but after the lease tenants will have to buy or move out. Per Alberta tenancy and land ownership laws, this is completely legal for SEMCA Development to do, as it is within their right to change the terms of agreement so long as a previous contract is honored.
Even though there are no legal concerns or contractual grievances, Nancy says this could still cause many headaches for most who live in the building. She talks to other couples that reside in the building, and said there are only about three couples who are in their forties to mid-fifties, but the rest of the units belong to residents that are well into their retirement stages of life.
“They lived independently but need some support and they've been here for 10 to 12 years since this building has been here and always have lived in Strathmore, most of them.”
Piche explains that most people living in these buildings aren't computer savvy, so it will be hard for them to find a rental unit as most listings are posted on things like social media.
“They don't have social media, they're crying on a daily basis, ever since receiving this letter. It's just been so stressful to see that they will be thrown out on the street. That’s like 48 families, but mostly elderly.”
From Piche’s understanding SEMCA development is still going to own the building but to buy the units, it's going to cost more than what they are paying for rent.
“We're supposed to get a second letter with all the breakdown of it and this and that, but there's none of them can afford it, so none of them are going to buy it.”
Piche explains that the real problem is finding these residents the amenities that they need when they are looking for a new place to call home.
“Things need to be accessible, like an elevator, and they can't have anything where they have to shovel.”
Due to high prices and the lack of availability in town, many of these residents may be forced to instead live in Okotoks, Airdrie, and even potentially Red Deer because there are just not enough rental listings in Strathmore that have the amenities for elderly people that are still independent.
“These people really buy local, and they belong here in Strathmore, and I know that this is not going to really change anything.”
Strathmore Now reached out to SEMCA development for a comment but didn't receive a response back.
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