UBC says Vancouver rental crunch driving up waitlists for student housing

Click to play video: 'Take a tour of UBC’s 140-square-foot ‘Nano’ student suite' Take a tour of UBC’s 140-square-foot ‘Nano’ student suite
WATCH: Take a tour of UBC's 140-square-foot 'Nano' student suite – Feb 22, 2016

The University of British Columbia (UBC) says Vancouver’s housing crunch and sky high rental prices are playing a part in the university’s near-record long waitlists for student housing.

UBC’s managing director of student housing Andrew Parr says the university is getting more last minute requests this year from students who normally wouldn’t apply for student housing.

“The Vancouver housing crunch is a significant player,” he said.

“Finding affordable and proximal housing to UBC here in the Point Grey area, arguably some of the most expensive real estate in the county… there’s a shrinking number of rental units near UBC and the rents have gotten got higher.”

READ MORE: Students struggle to find housing in red-hot rental market

But Parr said this year, more and more students are coming back to campus housing administrators empty handed after striking out in the Vancouver house hunt.

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“In years gone by I haven’t, but this year I can tell you I have heard from a couple of students who have come back to us and said ‘look, I didn’t apply for student housing, I was expecting to find off campus housing and I didn’t find anything, can you do anything to help us,’ he said.

“I think there are units available in the market, but they are so expensive, they are unattainable for them.”

WATCH: Big UBC rental housing hike for 2015

Rents on campus range from $600 to $1,900 a month.

UBC has 11,800 units on its Point Grey campus, and has added 3,000 beds over the last seven years, 750 of them this year alone Parr said.

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He said there is the capacity to grow to about 17,000 beds in total.

READ MORE: B.C. housing minister ‘looking at’ reducing maximum allowable rent increases

The university is also experimenting with new “nano suites,” as a way to address the housing crunch, with 70 of the 140-square-foot units due to be constructed by 2019.

The tiny suites are equipped with a bathroom, kitchen, small fridge and study space, and will rent for between $675-$695 per month.

Nearly 6,000 students are on a waitlist for student housing at UBC this year, Parr said, up from about 3,200 back in 2010.


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