Tenants’ cautiously optimistic changes to BC housing rules will make life easier

A self-described ‘renter for life’ says she is cautiously optimistic that changes to British Columbia housing rules will make life easier for those who cannot buy their own home, although she still has concerns about how these rules would work.

Serena Eagland, a nurse, says with the the high cost of living in Metro Vancouver, she and her partner don’t see a future where they can afford to buy their own home.

“The reality of public sector wages will never allow us to buy in Vancouver,” said Eagland, whose partner works in education.

“We will be renting for the rest of our lives.”

Eagland participated in a panel with other tenants on CBC The first editionwhere they discussed Prime Minister David Eby’s new housing plan announced on Monday.

LISTEN | British Columbia tenants share their thoughts on changes to housing rules

The first edition12:14Are Lower Mainland tenants stigmatized?

What do tenants think of Premier Eby’s new housing policy to lift strata rental restrictions? We ask three local tenants for their opinion.

Removal of age restrictions

Among the proposed changes is the elimination of age restrictions in some rental units, which prevents people with children or wanting to start a family from living there.

The provincial government also wants to eliminate rules put in place in certain apartment buildings, townhouse complexes and duplexes that prevent unit owners from renting to other people.

British Columbia Housing Minister Murray Rankin says there are too many unused condominium units due to restrictive condominium bylaws. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

“Rules that prevent families with children from living in a house or prevent people from renting the accommodation they own are no longer acceptable in our current housing market,” Housing Minister Murray Rankn said in a statement.

Regulations limiting short-term rentals such as Airbnbs will continue to be allowed, as will the ability for some retirement communities to be age-restricted to people 55 and older.

Carmen Lansdowne stands against a tiled wall.  She wears a blue dress with red patterns, as well as a long-sleeved blue blouse.
Reverend Carmen Lansdowne says trying to find rental accommodation for her family of four in Metro Vancouver has been “brutal”. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Reverend Carmen Lansdowne says she has experienced first-hand the impact of the restrictions Eby is trying to eliminate after her family of four was deported this summer.

“As a renting family, trying to find a three-bedroom…was brutal,” Lansdowne told CBC. The first edition Wednesday. Her family currently lives in a 900 square foot unit, smaller than the upper level of a house they previously rented.

While she’s optimistic about the changes, she fears the plan still hinges on people with multiple properties opting to rent out rooms or units, rather than focusing on building more dedicated rental units.

Eagland agreed, saying she expects to be outbid on rentals by speculators snapping up units to capitalize on the new rules.

“We’re going to end up having more competition,” she said.

Landlords and tenants have different views on the changes

David Waldie, who owns a townhouse in Victoria, says people often consider rules limiting the number of rentals allowed in a particular complex when deciding where to live.

Now the province is withdrawing that.

“You have to think about the characteristics of the buildings,” he said.

“Some people don’t want to buy in a building where some of the other people are going to be tenants…They want to buy in a building where everyone owns and is interested in owning the building.”

LISTEN | Callers discuss proposed changes to BC rental rules

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Prime Minister David Eby is trying to free up more rental housing by removing some restrictions set by strata. This includes limits on who rents out their units. Next, are we witnessing the collapse of Twitter? We want to hear from you.

But Martin Merkli, who has rented in the same building in Burnaby for 12 years, says people need to have a more favorable view of tenants, pointing out that his fellow panelists were people in well-paying jobs who don’t have the means to afford a house.

“Tenants aren’t the big bad-washed ones,” he said.

“We are hard working people.”

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