It's frustrating and discouraging to see Vancouver’s rental housing crisis impacting people of all incomes and neighbourhoods. An unprecedented near-zero vacancy rate and lack of quality, affordable rental homes have driven many Vancouver residents to pay far more than they can afford to rent. The stories I hear from tenants who are taken advantage of through bidding wars, real estate speculation, and renoviction loopholes in BC's Residential Tenancy Act are deeply troubling.
We need to ensure the best use of all our housing. In the coming weeks, City Hall will take next steps on new tools to deal with our rental housing crisis, and bring rental homes back into the market: staff will report back on the scope and design of an empty homes tax, so some of the 10,800 homes sitting empty and under-utilized become rentals; Council will also hear proposed next steps for regulating short-term rentals like Airbnb which are rapidly eroding our long-term rental supply.
City Hall will continue to aggressively support new rental housing, building on the 12,000+ homes we've enabled over the past five years. The City of Vancouver has also stepped up to protect our renters with some of the most comprehensive tenant protections in B.C.:
- We have the strongest municipal rental protection policy in the province, requiring developers to pay everything from moving costs to up to six months’ rent to displaced tenants from building redevelopment.
- Our searchable, public Rental Standards Database has been instrumental to helping renters find quality homes while holding landlords to account in maintaining compliance with health and safety by-laws. In just three years, violations have dropped 80%.
- Vancouver Rent Bank provides interest-free loans to renters in temporary financial crisis at risk of eviction. In just three years, we’ve helped 687 people – including 130 children – avoid homelessness and feel more secure in their homes.
But Vancouver can’t solve the rental housing crisis alone. We need more BC cities to join us in boosting rental housing supply. We need incentives from the Federal and BC government to encourage more rental construction. Our province needs stronger protection for renters and much tougher penalties on landlords who break the rules and put tenants at risk. We continue to call on the BC government to make changes to the Residential Tenancy Act and close the loopholes that allow renovictions, as well as enable cities to impose much higher fines on landlords who break the rules.
Housing needs to be first and foremost about homes, not to be treated as a commodity. Vancouver will continue to do all it can to maintain and protect affordable rental homes, advocate for renters in this tough rental market, and pursue all tools available to ensure the best use of all our housing. I urge all tenants, particularly during this unprecedented housing crisis, to learn their rights, and take advantage of the City’s resources to educate and protect themselves.
- Mayor Gregor Robertson