Mixed reaction to B.C.’s proposed lifting of strata rental restrictions

Click to play video: 'Premier defends B.C. housing legislation'
Premier defends B.C. housing legislation
David Eby pointed to the case of Shane Woodford -- a former journalist who recently moved to Denmark and has been unable to rent out his condo for the past two years -- as justification for his government's legislation designed to outlaw strata buildings from having rental bans. Aaron McArthur reports.

B.C.’s premier is defending legislation that would outlaw rental restrictions in condo buildings.

On Monday, David Eby announced an amendment to the Strata Act to remove almost all rental restrictions that had dictated only a certain percentage of buildings’ units could be rented over owned.

The only exception will be for buildings meant for those 55 years old or older, with in-home care allowed.

(We’re) in the middle of a housing crisis,” Eby said Tuesday. “We need every single unit we can get immediately for people in British Columbia. I know everyone in this room knows that.”

B.C.’s Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing, Murray Rankin, said the B.C. government needed to introduce that legislation in order to start making changes to the housing crisis in the province.

When asked about whether strata insurance rates will go up if more rentals in a building are allowed, Rankin said that issue has been with the government “for some time.”

“We need to ensure that what we do doesn’t entail any unintended consequences. So we’ll examine what needs to be done as we move forward,” he added.

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Read more: B.C. government introduces Housing Supply Act and removes strata rental restrictions

The most recent vacancy tax numbers from the B.C. government estimate there are around 3,000 homes that are sitting empty. However, it is also estimated there are around 300,000 homes in the province with some kind of rental limitation or restriction placed on them.

Tony Gioventu, the executive director of the Condominium Home Owners Association of B.C., told Global News that most strata corporations permit some kind of renting now.

“Most of the stratas that are going to be affected by this are in the category of under 50 units,” Gioventu said. “There are about 22,000 strata corporations across the province under 50 units. They’re almost all self-managed, we’re looking at volunteer strata councils, it’s already a challenge to sit on strata council, and this is going to add another layer of obligation.

“It’s really going to create a dynamic change for all of these people in these communities. For what they had intended as residential-owner-type communities is going to be changing the face of that.”

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Gioventu said the government needs to be targeting larger pools of rentals.

“What about the 50,000 AirBnBs that are using otherwise unoccupied units that probably could form part of a greater body of rental units?” Gioventu asked.

The new rules will apply to pre-2010 buildings. many of which are smaller self-managed strata corporations with fewer than 50 owners.

Some real estate agents said the removal of rental restrictions is good news, applauding more options for ownership and possibly rental.

“I personally think it will bring down the price of renting a home for the average person in B.C. because there will be so many more units available to rent,” Glenn Warren, a realtor with RE/MAX told Global News.

The new rules should pass the House this week and according to the premier, will come into effect immediately.

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