B.C. Lions player Jovan Olafioye offers season tickets to find housing in Vancouver

Jovan Olafioye's plight underscores the ultra-competitive nature of Vancouver's rental market, where the vacancy rate is hovering near zero.

Landlord B.C. CEO says he discourages landlords from accepting gifts

B.C. Lions player Jovan Olafioye is having such a hard time finding accommodation in Metro Vancouver, he's offering season tickets to any landlord who can help him out. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

B.C. Lions player Jovan Olafioye has had a rough time finding a rental in the Lower Mainland — so he's sweetening the deal for landlords with free season tickets. 

The all-star offensive lineman has spent weeks undergoing a rite of passage for many in the region: scouring rental listings, scrambling to showings and turning up empty handed. 

But he only needs a six-month lease, until the end of the season in December. Not even tickets can help, he says.

Game tickets currently run up to $140, while season memberships range from $280 to $750. 

"I definitely throw that in, just to put a little sugar on top," he told CBC News. "But when somebody comes in there saying, 'I want [the lease] for two years,' I don't think the B.C. Lions can compete with that."

Last week, after attending more than 20 viewings, he issued a call for help online. 

On his wish-list: a three-bedroom condo, townhouse or house near a SkyTrain station, preferably in Surrey near the B.C. Lions' training facility. Furnished, too, and a garage for his car. His max budget is $2,800 a month. 

One rental housing advocate says Olafioye's plight underscores the ultra-competitive nature of Vancouver's rental market, where the vacancy rate is hovering near zero. 

A minimum salary with the CFL is $54,000, but Olafioye, who's a six-time CFL All-Star, reportedly earns $200,000 a year.

"You think of the lower-income people we deal with a daily basis, the single mothers who can't afford to rent already," said Andrew Sakamoto, executive director of the B.C.-based Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre.

"You have professional athletes who are struggling as well, and those are the people they're competing against."

'Thanks, but no thanks'

Landlords are usually the ones known for dangling freebies, such as free Internet, to lure prospective tenants.

But even in Vancouver, where tenants have engaged in bidding wars, Olafioye's gift offer is unusual, said David Hutniak, the CEO of Landlord B.C. 

Jovan Olafioye is a six-time CFL All-Star. He signed with the B.C. Lions in 2010 and was traded in 2017 to Montreal Alouettes, before rejoining the Lions in 2018. (Kevin Light)

"I've actually never heard of someone doing this. And I'm not sure that it excites us a whole lot, to be perfectly candid," he said.

The Residential Tenancy Act doesn't prohibit landlords from accepting gifts, but Hutniak said he would discourage it. 

"Everyone applying for a unit should be on equal footing," he said. "[Landlords] should simply say, 'Thanks, but no thanks.'" 

However, the tenancy act also defines rent as a value, Sakamoto noted.

That can apply in cases where tenants get their rent reduced in exchange for caretaking services or sprucing up their units, he said. 

"It shows that rent can simply be more than money." 

Offers coming in

No landlords have snapped up the tickets yet, but Olafioye has been fielding multiple offers since posting online. 

 

"I didn't want to do it in a negative way. I just needed some help," he said. 

"I've been out here for a long time and done really good for the B.C.  Lions and always been a good person to the community. I thought I could use that to my advantage to try to get a place." 

He said many other players are living in hotels, which the league offers at a discounted rate or are settling in Airbnbs.

But Olafioye is desperate to find a stable place for his family. 

What's his deadline?

"Yesterday," he laughed.

With files from The Canadian Press 

Read more from CBC British Columbia

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story included a photo that claimed to show Jovan Olafioye. In fact, it showed B.C. Lions player Shawn Gore. The photo has been replaced.
    Jul 04, 2018 8:05 AM PT

About the Author

Alex Migdal

@alexem

Alex Migdal is a journalist for CBC News in Vancouver. You can reach him at alex.migdal@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @alexem.

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