Greater Victoria is one of the least affordable regions to buy or rent, in all of Canada.
And with home ownership increasingly out of reach, more and more people are looking to rent, but with a chronic shortage of new apartments, there’s not enough housing on the South Island.
“With the housing crisis that we’re in, any unit that’s empty is a problem,” said Saanich councillor Zac de Vries.
Saanich council has enacted a covenant to help address the problem.
“With every new build that is a strata, we are legally requiring them to allow if their owners want to rent out their unit,” said de Vries.
Previously, stratas were able to enact bylaws to ban renting — something councillor de Vries says is creating unnecessary vacancies.
It’s a practice other municipalities have also enacted.
Now, councillor de Vries is calling on the province to step in, and go a step further, by retroactively reversing any and all rental ban bylaws passed by strata councils across British Columbia.
“The province has the power to do that and I encourage them to exercise it, I encourage them to do it without age restrictions and pet restrictions as well. I just think that any way that we can reduce restrictions on rentals will be helpful,” said de Vries.
But the head of the Condo Home Owners Association (CHOA) says the move could create a haven for speculators wanting to run Airbnbs.
“I don’t know how this is going to solve a problem when you open a very stable and well occupies market to a speculation process or a rental process,” said Tony Gioventu, executive director of CHOA.
Short-term rentals like Airbnbs are restricted in Saanich their land use or zoning bylaws but remain difficult to regulate.