British Columbia

Rental housing task force proposals get mixed reviews

The Vancouver Tenants Union said it is "extremely disappointed" with the report, which is now set to be reviewed by the province.

Vancouver Tenants Union says recommendations for government don't go far enough

The task force recommends doing away with rental restrictions, so that no building stratas can prevent owners from renting out their units. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

B.C.'s rental housing task force has recommended the province end nearly all renovictions and prevent strata corporations from banning rentals in condo developments — but tenants' advocates say the proposals don't go far enough.

The task force on Wednesday presented the government with 23 recommendations meant to offer more protection for tenants and security for landlords.

At the very top of the list is stopping renovictions — the practice of forcing out tenants so the landlord can perform renovations, then set a higher rent. 

The task force also recommends keeping the current system of tying rent increases to the tenant, rather than to the home. This means landlords would still be permitted to raise their rents above the annual allowable increase when the current tenant moves out.

NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert, centre, announces recommendations from B.C.'s rental housing task force. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

Sydney Ball with the Vancouver Tenants Union said it is "extremely disappointed" with the report, which is now set to be reviewed by the province.

The union has been pushing the City of Vancouver and the province to bring in vacancy controls, which would prevent landlords from being able to raise rents once a tenant leaves.

"The rental housing task force took a position in which they said that rents should be tied to the tenant, not the unit. [That] was shocking to see, I think," Ball said.

Lifting rental restrictions

The task force also recommends doing away with rental restrictions, so that no building strata can prevent owners from renting out their units.

"We think that housing is needed and we think that landlords should be able to rent out their own homes," said task force chair and NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert.

But Tony Gioventu, with the Condominium Owners Association of B.C., said that might actually have the opposite effect.

"Strata housing that have rental bylaws clearly have the highest occupancy rates. Why would you remove their ability for rental limitations?" he said.

"That's probably going to diminish or eliminate those occupancy rates."

The task force also recommends creating a provincewide rent bank for low-income people and investigating how to give landlords in remote communities cheaper access to bailiffs for evictions.

With files from Meera Bains

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