B.C. housing activist calls for vacancy control

One B.C. housing activist says the province has "half a system of rent control." He's calling on the government to introduce vacancy control. Angela Bower has more.

A B.C. housing activist who says the province has “half a system of rent control” is calling for the government to do more to address the situation.

Murray Martin with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) explains because B.C. has no vacancy control, landlords can set their monthly rents to whatever they want when a unit is vacated.

“We are demanding that the province enact full rent control, which is called vacancy control, so the rent is tied to the unit. That takes away the motivation for landlords to evict people because they can’t raise the rent if they evict you,” said Martin.

“Right now, we have a system of half rent control, so when you are in the unit, the rent control is tied to you being in the unit. Once you leave or the landlord evicts you, they can raise the rent sky high.”

According to Zumper, a rental website, the average rent in July for a one-bedroom in Vancouver is $2,800 — a 17 per cent increase compared to 2022.

In Surrey, the median price is listed at just under $2,000, a 24 per cent increase compared to the year before.

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Martin says, today, housing is “more than ever … a commodity” that’s being built “to make money for someone.” He and others would like to see more done to help tenants.

“The focus on housing is for-profit. So you’re not going to get housing in B.C. unless you’re making some real estate company rich or some wealthy person rich,” Martin told CityNews.

His comments come as many around the region continue to feel the pressures of high rent and the increasing cost of living.

On Friday, a reddit user shared just one account of the housing situation in Vancouver, calling it a “disturbing trend” they had noticed.

“Landlords and rental agencies are pulling down their housing ads on Craigslist, only to repost them days later with increased rental rates,” the post reads, asking others if they are also seeing the same thing.

The post garnered many responses, with some pointing out high demand across the region.

“I listed a unit for rent, in the past week I got close to 400 replies. The demand for housing is insane,” a comment on the post said.

Other posts online detail the need for housing. One post on Craigslist by someone seeking a rental says they’re leaving their current home because they share a bathroom with eight people.

“People have to live in over-crowded conditions. Existing affordable rentals, the landlords aren’t doing any maintenance so there’s cockroaches, there’s bedbugs, the buildings are falling apart because they’re just seen as an investment,” Martin explained.

ACORN Canada plan to rally on Tuesday in the area of Seymour and Nelson streets to speak out.

CityNews asked the B.C. government about vacancy control but did not hear back in time for broadcast.

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