Metro Vancouver has Canada's highest rental housing eviction rate

Sep 14 2021, 12:17 pm

The epicentre of Canada’s housing affordability crisis also has the country’s highest eviction rate for rental housing, based on a newly released study by researchers at the University of British Columbia.

The national study on eviction rates found the Vancouver region’s eviction rate over the past five-year period to be 10.5%, far higher than Toronto’s at 5.8% and Montreal’s at 4.2%.

The province-wide rate for British Columbia was slightly higher at 10.6%. In contrast, other provincial eviction rates were far lower, with Prince Edward Island at 6.8%, Ontario and Alberta both at 6.3%, Saskatchewan at 5.1%, Quebec at 3.9%, and Manitoba at 3.7%.

Although rents are highest within the city of Vancouver, evictions in Metro Vancouver appear to be more heavily concentrated in suburban cities such as Surrey, Port Coquitlam, and Maple Ridge than in Vancouver and the cities that neighbour it.

It is noted that those aged 45 to 54 in BC and have a shelter cost to income ratio above 50% are “risk factors for eviction.” At the same time, the report stated there is no strong relation between growth in real rents and evictions, despite BC experiencing the highest growth in real rents between 2013 and 2018.

Across the country, it is estimated that male renters (7.2%) have a slightly higher eviction rate compared to females (6.1%). The highest eviction rate based on age is the group between 45 to 54 years old, with a rate of 8.4%. Children and renters aged 45 and 54 are “significantly” more likely to be evicted than younger adults and seniors. Renters over the age of 75 have a lower eviction rate than every other age group.

First Nations individuals have one of the highest eviction rates based on group demographics, hovering at 12.3%.

The research also cites other studies that found evictions often cause a downward spiral of housing quality that could lead to homelessness for younger people. Amongst Vancouver drug users, evictions increase the likelihood that they will relapse into hard illicit drugs, increase their HIV viral load amongst HIV-positive tenants, and increase the likelihood of experiencing violence.

It is estimated that 1.3% of renters, about 127,000 people in 56,000 households, were evicted in Canada in 2018. Furthermore, about 6.6% of renters were evicted over a five-year period, and nearly 10% of renters indicated their most recent move was an eviction, with data suggesting five out of six households forced to move were renters, even though renters account for only about one third of Canadian households.

Renters are also four times as likely to live in housing deemed to be unaffordable, which is rent that exceeds 30% of a household’s income.

These findings are based on the researcher’s interpretation of data from Statistics Canada and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

In recent years, the BC provincial government has enacted new policies that make it harder for landlords to evict tenants, including for reasons such as renovictions. The maximum annual rent increase has also been limited to the rate of inflation, with 1.5% being the cap for 2022 — by far the lowest rate of increase in at least 15 years.

There has been a freeze in rents in BC since March 2020 as an emergency pandemic measure, but this is set to end late this year. The provincial government also put in a place a temporary ban on evictions for reasons such as rent non-payment until September 2020.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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