WATCH: In a region with a 0.6 per cent rental vacancy rate, some units are now going to the highest bidder. April Lawrence reports.
It’s being called a crisis as an increasing number of working people face the very real threat of becoming homeless.
Jamie Hill has been making phone calls for four months and still hasn’t found a place to call home.
Hill and her husband both work and have an 8-year-old son.
They were forced out of their last home in Central Saanich after it sold to new owners, and are now living with her dad in a one-bedroom suite.
After an exhaustive search she thought she secured a place earlier this month, signing a lease and paying a damage deposit.
But then the landlord called.
“I found someone who has more money and is going to rent today so now people are in bidding wars and I’m being pushed out in the street again,” Hill said.
It’s a story being experienced by more and more people across the region.
“This market is incredibly, incredibly competitive and incredibly vicious,” said Emily Rodgers with Together Against Poverty Society.
CHEK News recently spoke with carpenter John Goddard who has been sleeping in Topaz Park because he can’t compete.
“I’ve been to I think 20, 28 appointments last week for apartments, two of them ended up being a bidding war, where the prices went astronomical how much money they were,” Goddard said over the weekend.
In an area with a vacancy rate of just 0.6 per cent, bidding wars, sky high rents, and discrimination against pets, and even children, have become commonplace.
“It is absolutely a landlord’s market, there are hundreds of applications for every single rental unit,” said Rodgers.
Victoria’s mayor admits it’s a crisis and says the city is taking action.
“We’re actually fast-tracking all new rental developments right to the top of the pile so everything we’re doing will help but it doesn’t ease the crisis right now,” admitted Lisa Helps.
Advocates want the provincial government to tie maximum rental increases to the unit not the tenant.
“The rent could only be increased by a certain amount per year regardless of whether there’s a new tenant, regardless of whether the tenant can pay more, the law simply wouldn’t allow it,” said Rodgers.
If change happens, it won’t come soon enough for Jamie Hill, who is hoping to find a home before her son has to start the school year.