Vacancy Control: The Key to Rental Affordability

October 11, 2022


We have had Rental Control in Vancouver for many years through which long term renters are assured that their rent will only increase each year by an amount governed by Provincial regulation. However, rent control operates at the tenant level, meaning that when a tenancy ends the landlord is free to jack up the price of a suite by any amount they choose, often destroying affordability. In my own building we have seen new tenants charged $1,000 a month more than was paid by the tenant who left.

Moreover, this ability to raise rents by huge amounts has contributed directly to some greedy landlords seeking to evict low-paying tenants no matter how worthy they are, no matter how long they have lived there, and how regularly they pay their rents.

Vacancy control is rent control at the level of the suite, meaning that new tenants will not see such massive increases in costs, and landlords will have far less reason to strongarm existing tenants out of their homes.

I am delighted to report that TEAM For a Liveable Vancouver, if they gain a majority on Vancouver City Council, will implement vacancy control for all multi-unit apartments. Mayoral candidate Collen Hardwick noted:

“Vacancy Control is needed because while many landlords of multi-unit apartment buildings are not dramatically raising rates when vacancies occur, enough are imposing huge increases to make it impossible for low and medium income renters to afford the rent.”

Vacancy control will be brought in for a short period in order to study its effects:

“TEAM will set a term of 2 years for the Vacancy Control implementation and include a “sunset clause” for it to expire – while during that time there will be a full review of the results with recommendations for the future. And there will be an Appeal Board for apartment owners whose properties have needed repairs and renovations to allow appropriate rental increases to cover those costs. The Vacancy Control measure will only apply to large multi-unit apartments of more than 6 units and not to smaller rentals, including basement suites, laneway houses, duplexes and other similar situations.”

Patrick Condon, founding Chair of UBC’s Urban Design Program, said:

“Vacancy Control is absolutely essential to Vancouver to stop the enormous increases in apartment rental rates and the ridiculous windfall profits that some landlords have imposed on those seeking affordable housing in our city. This measure will stop the spiral of ever more unaffordable rentals and allow City Council to begin the work needed to make Vancouver somewhere that all renters can continue to live without spending more than they can possibly afford.”

TEAM’s policies are a stark contrast to those of ABC mayoral candidate Ken Sims and Forward Together Mayor Kennedy Stewart – who have solicited donations from the major corporate developers who benefit from unlimited rent increases in vacant rental units.

Image: Red Tulips #2

October 11, 2022