Sewage leaks, black mould, pet problems and a long search. Ask about renting, and some Calgarians will tell you it’s tough and that it’s getting tougher, especially for anyone on a tight budget. For years, the rental market has been losing cheaper private rental units far faster than Ottawa or any other government has built them. Now those looking at the low-end of the market say there’s stiff competition for anything decent, and across the rental market, the average price on newly-vacant places has started to climb. Some residents say that will make housing top-of-mind as they vote in both upcoming elections. “For the first time in my adult life, I’ve decided I’m actually going to go (to forums) and really hear what the candidates are saying,” said Celine Chorney, a health-care aide who feels too many promises are “smokescreens.” “This year, I’m definitely interested in actually learning more.” Chorney, who works close to full-time hours, discovered how tough renting can be after separating from her husband just before the pandemic. She and her two teenage children moved into a three-bedroom rental, then discovered it had a cracked and leaking sewage pipe.