B.C. Lions player Jovan Olafioye offers season tickets to find housing in Vancouver
Landlord B.C. CEO says he discourages landlords from accepting gifts
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.
Still haven’t found a place to stay in Vancouver someone please help me! 😩😩😩—@jolafioye63
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.
"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.
We will have a 2 bedroom place in Port Moody available -- comes with a community pool and rec centre, near Skytrain, walking trails, Rocky Point Park. Furnished too (although we'd have to change some things in the 2nd bedroom for the kidlets) DM me.—@carolwain
I have a place available DT August 1 near BC Place if you don't find something sooner. 2 bed 2 bath 1030ft +balcony.—@agentblair
"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
- 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