November 23, 2022

Province Tells Cities to Build More, Turns Strata Units Into The New Rental Units

The new premier of British Columbia David Eby used to be a housing minister and was the former attorney general.

He will be introducing legislation in the provincial legislature giving the Province the authority to tell municipalities how much housing they need to build after consultation with them. The goal is  the proposed “Housing Supply Act” will provide  “new housing targets will encourage municipalities to address local barriers to construction so that housing can get built faster, including updating zoning bylaws and streamlining local development approval processes” according to the Province’s press release.  There are already housing targets developed by Metro Vancouver, and the Province is silent on how those targets will be folded into this proposed new work.

The Housing Supply Act is intended to be enacted by the middle of 2023.

The second piece is a surprising one and not for the reasons you are anticipating. Mr. Eby is also  suggesting amending the Strata Property Act to end rental restriction bylaws. The only proposed rental restriction that will be maintained is for seniors’ housing, where people over 55 years of age live.

This Strata Property Act amendment makes sense for some of the weirder things that happen, like when a young couple has a baby and then gets informed by the Strata Council that people under 18 years of age cannot live in the unit. There is also the challenge of some stratas that put limits on the number of people that can live in a unit, which is tough for families that have more children than the Strata Council limit per unit.

But there is another side too. While the Premier has suggested that allowing rentals in strata buildings will put on the rental market  potentially 2,900 empty strata units in the province, it also may bring in a new kind of investor snapping up strata units specifically to rent as high end rental or as longer term AirBnB or VRBO.

While this will still be prohibited under the Strata Property Act, it will be hard to enforce without clearer definitions This of course could also raise the price of strata units as they can now be rented out entirely, or strata owners can legally rent out part of their condo, bringing in a new class of investors. Look for strata prices on previously age and rental restricted buildings to rise as investors buy in for monthly rental revenue streams.

It may have been prudent to have firstly defined more exacting legislation governing how short term rentals will be defined, administered and governed, which potentially could place more existing rental units in circulation for residents, not visitors.

In June 2016 a consultant’s study suggested there were over 6,200 short term rental units in Vancouver. By 2022,  city staff reported to Council that short term rentals had dropped to 2,325 units. Those of course are the units that have been registered by the city, while there are some citizens that have been notifying the City of a myriad of short term rentals still in operation that have been missed.

Legislation to change the Strata Property Act has been approved and it is anticipated that the changes will be immediately implemented.  You can take a look at this handout on the proposed changes provided by the Province.

You can take a look at the  YouTube video below with journalist Liza Yuzda describing the changes, with a cameo appearance from UBC’s Tom Davidoff.

 

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  1. Eby gets an F from me on this one. This is ‘let’s try more of the same, just with a differently coloured lipstick”.

    The answer is actually pretty straight forward: Public Housing. Start building and maintaining housing as if it was a right, with affordable rates and no profit motive.

    But I guess that’s a bit too far even for our NDP. Wouldn’t want to upset all the developers that make big bank by slapping together yet another tower.

    1. Public housing is simply too expensive to consider, unfortunately. Tens of billions to build and maintain new units to any effect. It’s got nothing to do with “upsetting” developers.

  2. Non-resident owners are notorious for not supporting special levies and increased fees for maintenance. – what could go wrong? (Perhaps there is some actual research on this point out there)

  3. Not sure that there will be a rush of investors wanting to buy condos to rent out when it’s currently a negative net income stream with no hope of a positive return with the pathetic 2% increase in rent allowed despite the approx. 8% increase in strata fees, insurance, maintenance, property taxes etc etc.

  4. Toronto has led North America in highrise construction for the last eight years running. They have 150 highrise buildings currently under construction, the second place city has 30. Real estate agents are getting multiple offers to rent one bedroom condos downtown with a years rent paid up front. Whatever is going on in Canadian real estate, trying to create more supply (where would you get the construction labor) trying to increase supply is a massive failure.

    A multifactor problem requires a multifactor solution, and taking 33 years to start construction on an affordable housing project in Coal Harbour this year (land was set aside in 1989) speaks volumes about the lack of funding for non market housing – the true affordable housing solution.

    1. Actually it was the School that took more than 30 years to fund and build and it was the hold up for building the social housing.

      The site was unusual because an elementary school, a child care and social housing was identified for the site and therefore each had to have funding from a different source or different timing.

      The social housing could have been built in the 90’s because there was Provincial social housing funding from the Homes BC programme. Or the social housing could have been funded from DCL’s and CAC’s collected from development up the hill along West Georgia and Alberni in the early 2000’s.

      The social housing finally is being built because BC Hydro stepped up to fund the school so meanwhile the Lord Roberts Annex will be demolished once the Coal Harbour School is built. BC Hydro is building a very large transformer vault under the current Lord Roberts Annex site and once that is completed a new school will be built there as well.

      So we will finally have social housing, child care and a new school in Coal Harbour thanks to the school being funded.

  5. ‘Build more’ means different things in different places, and for different tenures, and for different age groups, and for different family structures. In the dense inner city, it means ‘build up’, which is expensive and destructive to the environment when done incorrectly (which is almost always). ‘Build more’ in a small-town means ‘build out’, spread out with single family residential and this produces appealing and inexpensive housing compared to inner city housing units. This is why small towns become retirement places for many senior pensioners fleeing expensive inner city living. Would this migration effect produce affordability in the inner city? Probably not, but it begs the question, rather than all the demolition and reconstruction in our cities and towns as we ‘build more’………why not ‘build new’ towns from scratch on crown land, complete walkable communities following our best practices and desires to eliminate our carbon footprint. To meet the challenges of living in the Anthropocene Era we need to seriously up our game and demonstrate the transformation needed going forward. We need a ‘New Town Provincial Secretariat’ that can take on this challenge, assemble multi-disciplines team to define and manage a project of this nature. It is being done in Indonesia, for example because Jakarta which is the capital city is flooding by sea level rise and more intense storms. Jakarta will be re-built new on a greenfield site, on another island and on higher ground.

    Certainly, we could manage one new small and well-located town of 10,000 people or so.

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