British Columbia·Interactive

Census data reveals what Metro Vancouverites already know: rents are through the roof

Just-released Statistics Canada data confirms what everyone already knows: renting in Metro Vancouver is becoming increasingly unaffordable for a large swath of the population.

After being renovicted, Lucas Gallagher moved into a smaller apartment where he's paying $500 more per month

Lucas Gallagher lived the nightmare of what it can be like to be a renter in Vancouver's increasingly tough housing market. (Peter Scobie/CBC)

Lucas Gallagher doesn't need to see the new census data to know just how crazy and expensive Vancouver has become for renters.

This spring, the 32-year-old bike shop owner watched the rent in an apartment he had called home for five years double, practically overnight.

Gallagher and his spouse had fought eviction from the unit for almost a year before giving up last December. That's when the building owner sent out a third eviction notice, claiming the structure and its 10 units needed major renovations which required all tenants to move out.

Rents in the Metro Vancouver area are increasing much faster than incomes. (Paul Sakuma/Associated Press)

But after only a few months and a few minor and cosmetic repairs, the units were back on the market with rents jacked 100 per cent.

"They absolutely did not require us to be evicted," said Gallagher. "But because of the stress of worrying about the stability of the home, we left."

Gallagher's story is not unique in Vancouver, where a shortage of rental units combined with skyrocketing real estate prices have brought many renters to their knees.  

Affordability crisis confirmed

Just-released Statistics Canada census data only confirms what everyone already knows: renting in the Metro Vancouver area is becoming increasingly unaffordable for a large swath of the population.

From 2011 to 2016 median monthly rent costs across Vancouver and the Lower Mainland rose significantly faster than average incomes, with a number of neighbourhoods seeing increases of 50 per cent or more.

Only a few pockets showed a decrease in median rents.

According to the data between 2011 and 2016:

  • The South Surrey neighbourhood bordered by 24th Avenue and 140 Street experienced the highest hike in median rents in the Lower Mainland at 141 per cent.
  • Four Lower Mainland neighbourhoods saw an increase in median monthly rents of over 100 per cent — two in Surrey, one each in Richmond and South Surrey. 
  • The most expensive rents in B.C. are in the West Vancouver neighbourhood between Cypress Bowl Road and Horseshoe Bay, where the median is $3,790 per month.
  • The British Properties/Canyon heights area had the second highest rents at $2,854 per month.
  • The two West Vancouver neighbourhoods are the only ones in B.C. to crack the top 10 most expensive rental markets in Canada. The other eight are all in Toronto.
  • The Downtown Eastside has B.C.'s least expensive median rent at $405 per month. It also has the lowest median household income anywhere in Canada.

Life after renoviction

After his renoviction, Gallagher was able to find a new home in Vancouver, but it wasn't easy.

He's now forking out $500 a month more than he used to for a smaller apartment with problem neighbours. 

"We are not in a happy place," he said.

Gallagher says he's lived his entire adult life in Vancouver but the renting affordability crisis has him considering a move elsewhere. (Peter Scobie/CBC)

Not surprisingly, the ordeal has he and his partner considering if they'd be better off moving away.

"It's certainly affected our quality of life and outlook for livability ... being that buying seems inescapably impossible and paying out the nose for rent doesn't leave with you a good taste."

"It doesn't make the city look like a great place to be."

To see 2016 monthly median rents by neighbourhood click on the box