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Creating and preserving market rental housing

Rental housing is important in meeting the needs of a diverse population and is vital to a healthy economy. It also allows moderate income households to stay in the City as renter household incomes are typically half that of owners.

Vancouver has the tightest rental market and one of the lowest vacancy rates in Canada, which over the last 3 years has averaged 0.9 per cent. With a growing population, limited increases in income and limited new supply of purpose-built rental housing in recent decades, the need for suitable housing choices for low and moderate income households has grown significantly.

In the past few years, council has adopted a number of programs and strategies to protect and increase the number of market rental homes throughout Vancouver.

Programs include:

  • Rental 100: Secured Market Rental Housing Policy
  • Short Term Incentives for Rental Housing (STIR)
  • Rate of change regulations
  • Laneway housing
  • Secondary suites in single-family areas
  • Secondary suites within apartments

Rental 100: Secured Market Rental Housing Policy

The purpose of the Rental 100: Secured Market Rental Housing Policy is to encourage the development of projects where 100% of the residential units are rental. Under the policy, all rental units created will be secured for 60 years, or for the life of the building, whichever is greater.

The policy targets moderate income households, and will help the City reach its goal of creating 5,000 new units of market rental housing by 2021.

How Rental 100 works

This policy encourages projects where 100% of the residential rental housing units are secured for 60 years or life of the building, whichever is greater. Eligible incentives include:

  • DCL waiver
  • Parking requirement reductions
  • Relaxation of unit size to 320 sq. ft. (provided design and location meet the City’s liveability criteria)
  • Additional density beyond what is available under existing zoning (for projects requiring a rezoning)
  • Concurrent processing (for projects requiring a rezoning)

How Rental 100 leads to affordable rentals

Affordability will be achieved primarily through the tenure as renting is inherently less expensive than owning. In addition, affordability will be attained through reduced parking, modest size, limited on-site common amenities, level of finishing, and other design considerations.

Guidelines regarding the size of the units, based on BC Housing Standards, have been developed to assist applicants and staff in determining the affordability of units proposed.

Learn more about Rental 100

Apply to create rental housing under this program

Short Term Incentives for Rental Housing (STIR)

In response to the demand for more rental housing, combined with a development industry that wants to create it, council started the Short Term Incentives for Rental (STIR) program.

The STIR program encouraged new building projects, by offering incentives to developers. In return, developers agreed to provide up to 100% of the units in their developments as rentals for the life of the building, or 60 years, whichever came first.

Incentives to developers included:

  • Rental property assessment (on rental units only)
  • Development Cost Levy waiver (on rental units only)
  • Parking requirement reductions (on rental units only)
  • Discretion on unit size
  • Increased density
  • Expedited permit processing

The program ran for two-and-a-half years, and ended on December 15, 2011.

Rate of change regulations

The requirements in the Zoning and Development Bylaw are intended to maintain rental housing by requiring one-for-one replacement of demolished rental units in redevelopment projects involving six or more dwelling units.

Laneway housing

In 2009, laneway houses were introduced as a new form of rental and family housing in single-family areas in Vancouver.  A laneway house is a smaller, detached home located where the garage would normally go on a single-family lot.

As of the end of January 2011, 214 laneway houses have been approved, and 47 have been built.

Secondary suites in single-family areas

Secondary suites supplement the city’s purpose-built rental housing stock, and provide accommodation to low and modest income renters.

In 2009, council approved zoning changes to enable full-size basements and more liveable basements suites. These suites are now permitted in all single-family and multi-family areas in the city.

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Results of the STIR program


The STIR pilot program ended on December 15, 2011.

You can now view the staff presentation that describes the program's results and lessons.

Get the presentation


Last modified: Mon, 09 Dec 2013 10:45:31