Gentrification and Rental Management Agencies: West Broadway Neighbourhood in Winnipeg

Article excerpt

Abstract

The objective of this article is to examine the role of rental management agencies (RMA) in regard to what is been considered as the beginning of gentrification in West Broadway, and analyze this process and its impact on rental properties. In order to do this, we measured the rate of rent increase in advertised rental properties from 2001-2005 and briefly examined the physical, aesthetic, and social/cultural changes that have occurred during this period. The impact of gentrification on rental properties is a particularly interesting case because it has not yet been examined by many researchers. Thus, the process of gentrification in West Broadway is unique because of the high proportion of renters and active engagement of rental management agencies in the process of renewal. The 2006 Census indicates that 92.8 percent of West Broadway residents are renters, with over 40 percent of residents earning less than $12,000. Because of the high percentage of renters, it is important to examine how gentrification in the neighbourhood affects renters and rental accommodations.

Keywords: gentrification, rental management agencies, West Broadway

Resume

L'objectif de cet article est d'examiner le role d'Agences immobilieres de gestion de proprietes de location (Rental Management Agencies) en ce qui concerne et ce que l'on considere comme le debut du processus d'embourgeoisement du quartier de West Broadway (Winnipeg). L'article examine le processus d'embourgeoisement et l'impact de ces Agences immobilieres sur les proprietes de location. Pour ce faire, nous avons mesure le taux d'augmentation des loyers base sur les annonces de location de proprietes de 2001 a 2005. De plus, nous examinons brievement les changements physiques, esthetiques, et socioculturels du quartier et des proprietes de location au cours de cette periode. L'impact de l'embourgeoisement sur les proprietes de location est un cas particulierement interessant parce que cela n'a pas encore ete examine par beaucoup de chercheurs. Ainsi, le processus l'embourgeoisement de West Broadway est unique a cause de la haute proportion de locataires et le ro1e d'Agences immobilieres de gestion de location dans le processus de renouvellement.

Mots cles: embourgeoisement, agences immobilieres de gestion de proprietes de location, West Broadway

Introduction

The phenomenon of gentrification is both widespread and visible. Gentrification is believed to have occurred as early as the 1870s in Paris (Smith 1996) but the term was first coined in 1964 by Ruth Glass to describe the process that she observed in Camden Town, North London (Glass 1964). Gentrification has since been identified in almost every industrialized country, recognized first in Europe and later North America and Australia. In Canada, similar processes were noticed since the 1980s in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, and Halifax (Ley 1986; Meligrana & Skaburskis 2005; Rose 1989; Slater 2004).

One way to describe gentrification is that it is an "island of renewal in a sea of decay" (Berry 1985). Gentrification is part of the larger process of neighbourhood renewal, and can be described as a process whereby a low rent neighbourhood changes to a high rent neighbourhood through redevelopment. This process usually occurs in conjunction with changing demographics and an influx of wealthier residents. In many instances it infers a displacement of lower income residents as a result of rising property values and rent increase, primarily focusing on single family dwellings.

The impact of gentrification on rental properties is a particularly interesting case because it has not yet been examined by many researchers. Previous studies have looked at how rooming houses have been converted to single family homes of condominiums (Millard-Ball 2000) or how new classes of urban professionals and empty nesters have come into a neighbourhood to fix up old and derelict properties (DeGiovanni 1983; Sieber 1985), yet no studies have examined the upscaling of rental properties both in terms of interior/exterior improvements and the change toward higher income tenants. …