City of Vancouver outlines next steps in creating additional protection for renters
We have heard loud and clear from Council and the public that we need to take urgent action to strengthen our existing policies and look at where we can create new policy.
Dan Garrison, Assistant Director, Housing Policy
Protecting renters and encouraging development of new rental homes for all income levels remains a priority for the City, and today staff presented plans and put forward new actions aimed at increasing support and protection for renters.
"We have some of the strongest rental protection policies in the Province," says Dan Garrison, Assistant Director, Housing Policy. "We have heard loud and clear from Council and the public that we need to take urgent action to strengthen our existing policies and look at where we can create new policy."
Actions outlined in today's presentation included:
Improving protection and service to renters
- For select, recently-sold buildings, when a permit application is submitted to the City with intentions to develop the rental building, staff will be piloting a new notification system which will send renters facing eviction their tenancy rights by mail. This pilot aims to provide better education and direct information to renters.
- Staff are working to strengthen Vancouver's existing Tenant Relocation and Protection Policy - already one of the strongest in the Province - by consulting with stakeholders and reporting to Council with an updated policy in June 2019. Options being explored include:
- Strengthening the first right of refusal provision by providing increased affordability for low income and vulnerable renters
- Adding a temporary relocation option for renovations
- Increasing communication between landlords and tenants and increasing City staff oversight of this outreach
- Developing options for social housing providers that focus on rehousing, rather than compensation
- Staff will also be reporting back to Council in April on ways in which the Renters Office could be developed. The Renters Office aims to improve City services for renters, collaborating with and supporting external community-based renter serving organizations, and working with rental advocates to support renters impacted by renovation and redevelopment.
- Work with the RTB at the Province to strengthen renter protection and to ensure greater clarity is provided to City Staff, tenants, and the public regarding whether planned work on rental properties justifies eviction of tenants.
Encourage reinvestment of aging rental stock
To ensure aging rental stock is properly maintained, staff are looking at:
- Opportunities to encourage critical upgrades, including financial incentives or grants, development easements, and regulatory options and aligning these objectives with work underway to develop a strategy for energy and seismic retrofits in existing buildings.
- Developing a pilot program to support critical energy retrofits in existing buildings, including rental, with conditions including no permanent displacement.
Review of Rental 100
The City's Rental 100 incentive program was created to address a rental shortage after decades of no rental construction. This program is targeted toward households that can't afford ownership, and helps to reduce pressure on older, more affordable rental units.
Staff will be reviewing this program to determine how we can deepen affordability. A report to Council on the findings of the review and new policy recommendations for program improvement will be drafted by the end of the year.
Work already underway
These actions are in addition to the work already being done by the City and other protections already in place for renters such as:
- The existing Tenant Relocation and Protection Policy, providing protection and assistance to renters who must move if their building is redeveloped. In addition to having one of the strongest policies in the region, Vancouver was also the first municipality to introduce renter protections as condition of development.
- The hire of the first dedicated member of the City's Renters Office, a Renters Advocacy and Support Services Officer.
- Rental incentive programs including Rental 100, targeting moderate to high income earners, and the Moderate Income Rental Pilot Program which targets lower income households earning between $30,000 and $80,000 per year.
- Rental Housing Stock ODP, which requires one-for-one replacement of existing rental housing on new developments of three or more units in certain multi-family areas of the city.
- The Laneway Housing Program, which was introduced in 2009 as a new form of rental and family housing in single-family areas in Vancouver. Since its inception, Vancouver has issued a total of 3,860 permits.
- Secondary suites in single family areas supplement the Vancouver's purpose-built rental housing stock and provide accommodation to low- and modest-income renters. Full-size basements and livable basement suites are allowed in all single-family and multi-unit areas in the city.