BCGEU pushes for vacancy control to address the housing crisis

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BCGEU pushes for vacancy control
B.C.'s largest public sector union is calling on the province to implement vacancy control, which would prohibit landlords from increasing rents between tenancies. As Kylie Stanton reports, it's an idea that has its critics and that the province has already ruled out – Sep 13, 2023

A new report commissioned by the B.C. General Employees Union argues the province should implement vacancy control measures to address the housing crisis.

B.C.’s rent controls currently restrict how much a landlord can raise the rent on a unit each year.

But there are no limits on how much the rent can go up when someone moves out before new tenants move in.

Vacancy control measures would mean that rent increases cannot occur between tenants.

However, some critics are not convinced this would be the best way forward.

”If you go all the way to not only rent control to within a tenancy but you can never get your rents back to market level, obviously that’s going to make investment in rental housing much less attractive,” Tom Davidoff with the UBC School of Business told Global News.

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“So obviously we’ll see much less investment in rental housing and more in condos.”

B.C. Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon said in a statement that inflation and the cost of living are making things tough for everyone, particularly renters.

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“In addition to capping the 2024 annual rent increase amount to 3.5 per cent, well below inflation for the third year in a row, we have made several significant changes to provide relief to renters in B.C., including addressing the issue of illegal renovictions, strengthening penalties for breaking the law, and providing province-wide coverage of rent back services, among others,” he said.

“Changes to the Residential Tenancy Branch, including the creation of the Compliance and Enforcement Unit, are helping to improve education and awareness, and also better protect renters and improve dispute resolution services.”

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Kahlon said since 2017, the province has more than 76,000 new homes that have been delivered or whose construction is underway throughout B.C.

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