Premier David Ibe on Monday announced a plan to amend the Strata Estate Act, to reduce restrictions on rent in Strata, in a move aimed at opening up rental opportunities as the province continues to grapple with a housing crisis.
The changes will end all bylaws restricting rents and restricting age regulations. Some buildings currently only allow people 19 and over to live there – something Ebe says creates challenges for people starting families.
Ibe estimated that 2,900 units in British Columbia are empty, and he said opening only half of them to renters would help.
The province estimates that 1.5 million British Columbians live in stratified housing, which includes condos, flats, townhouses and single-family detached homes, in some cases.
Homeowners in strata residences typically elect volunteer councils responsible for collecting strata fees, obtaining insurance, paying bills, and enforcing the strata’s bylaws, among other things.
While some people applaud the plan, saying any move toward housing is a positive step, lower-society homeowners worry that ending restrictions will appeal to rental investors, who will bid against families trying to become homeowners.
“Prices are going to go up,” said Wendy Wall, president of the Strata Owners Association of Vancouver Island.
“All it’s going to do is keep these people trying to get out of the rental market in the rental market.”
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Wall said she’s received a “flood” of emails from volunteer landlords and volunteer council members who have raised concerns that if investors buy strata properties, they’ll rent and won’t be essentially participating in the rent.
“When the landlord is not physically there, the tenants turn to other landlords, and that generally means the council. All these day-to-day things end up coming to the council,” she said. on the island Host Gregor Craigie.
“Council members become de facto property owners and all this additional work falls on the council members.”
The consequences we face now [with] Ibi said in response that the ban on rents is that people who want to rent a vacant apartment cannot.
“And the person who wants to rent that out, who is desperate for a place to rent, can’t afford to rent it out, or someone who has several bedrooms in an apartment who wants to rent out one of them is not allowed to do that.”
Tony Giovinto, executive director of the British Columbia Homeowners Association (CHOA), echoed Wall’s concerns that the move could encourage speculation, adding that the majority of BC’s 300,000 tiers are in buildings with fewer than 50 units.
“It will simply mean that when a unit goes up for sale, it will not be bought by another occupant who will live there, but by speculators, and we will end up getting more competition.
“This is not 3,000 affordable units. Maintaining, managing and purchasing Strata properties is expensive and will not be the same as cheap and affordable units.”
Giovinto said data collected by the CHOA showed that buildings that have internal rental regulations have an occupancy rate of 99 percent, while buildings built since 2010 that allow rentals have occupancy rates of 75 to 80 percent.
Ibi said the amendments will not affect the ability of classes to ban short-term rentals, such as renting out rooms or homes on sites like AirBnB.
If approved, the amendment will take effect immediately.
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