"That isn't our approach": Vacancy control not a priority for the BC government

Jan 30 2023, 9:19 pm

BC has no vacancy control, meaning that once a unit is vacated, the landlord can set whatever fee they want when renting it out again.

In a recent communication with Daily Hive, the BC Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon said, “that isn’t our approach,” when asked if it was a matter of concern.

A recent report from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation shed some light on the difference in the cost of rent between occupied units and units that were vacated, and the disparity is quite significant, which began a conversation on social media about whether BC should implement some form of vacancy control.

Author and columnist David Moscrop analyzed some of the shared findings when looking at the disparities between the average rent of occupied units and vacant asking prices in Metro Vancouver.

Vacant asking price average in Vancouver: $2534–that’s $816 above the average price of occupied units,” he said in a tweet.

“Vancouver is so hopelessly broken. It is fundamentally unjust.

If vacancy control isn’t a priority for the BC government, then what is?

Building rental housing.

However, the rate at which BC is building housing hasn’t been able to keep up with the number of people needing homes, forcing higher rates. Vacancy rates are at historical lows.

“Recognizing the significant pressures renters are facing, we are full steam ahead to create even more new rental supply – both by building new units and things like expanding the speculation tax to new communities and eliminating strata rental bans to open up existing vacant units for rental,” said Kahlon.

“The CMHC report shows that last year, Greater Vancouver saw the largest-ever increase in purpose-built rental supply, and CMHC predicts significant new rental completions in the years ahead. We need to even further expand that work.”

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives suggests that vacancy control could curb rent increases when units turn over, making housing more affordable.

Well-known BC housing advocate Jean Swanson is also advocating for vacancy control.

One group of residents who likely won’t be happy with the reality of vacancy control being introduced is landlords. Many landlords also face a reality that involves higher taxes and other fees related to owning a home in the province.

Maybe there’s a balance in-between, where landlords can raise rents to a certain amount to ensure future renters aren’t paying astronomically higher fees for shelter, the same as for occupied units.

Would you be in favour of vacancy control in BC? Let us know in the comments.

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