British Columbia

UBC student housing: Vancouver rental shortage has students scrambling

Time is running out for students looking to find a home before the school year begins.

Time is running out for students looking to find a home before the school year begins

Joaquin Acevedo, heading into his fifth and final year at UBC, is struggling find somewhere to live in Vancouver, with only two weeks to go before the start of the school year. (CBC)

Students at the University of British Columbia are scrambling to find somewhere to live before the school year begins in Vancouver.

Joaquin Acevedo, heading into his fifth and final year at UBC, is among those competing for rentals in the already crowded Vancouver market.

"I've been to a few house viewings and one of the more recent ones there was 25 people there," said Acevedo, who is having difficulty finding a place to rent with two others.

"We're really fighting against time right now, we have a couple of weeks all of us are in current leases that expire at the end of August and we need to move out somewhere."

Like many other students, Acevedo and his friends are finding themselves vying with graduates, families and young professionals for the same spot.

The Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre says students, naturally concerned about price, seek out basement suites and sometimes wind up in old suites that aren't up to building code.

Josh Rosenberg, an associate broker with Remax, says August is prime time for rentals and the bottom line is, students are only one piece of the rental puzzle.

"The only way of getting it better is to increase the supply and there's only so much you can do with supply".

UBC housing wait list tops 5,000

First year UBC students have guaranteed housing on campus, but after that, students are on their own. They do have the option of living on campus — but only if spaces become available.

An aerial view of the UBC campus in Vancouver. (UBC)

Andrew Parr, with UBC Student Housing and Hospitality Services​, says the university now has a wait-list of roughly 5,000 students, all waiting for campus housing. He says there may be a vacancy problem in Vancouver.

"We do hear the number of basement suites and rental units that are close to campus is diminishing on an annual basis," said Parr.

He says the school has added hundreds of spaces in campus housing this year, with more coming in 2015, and the university has resources to help students looking for housing.

As for Joaquin Acevedo, he's still searching, and he knows his commute probably won't be as short as he'd like.

"A lot of these places around UBC are probably more expensive than what we can afford."


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