Hot region sets ground rules for investors

In anticipation of significant economic growth in many parts of Northeast B.C., the government is hosting a series of education sessions for both landlords and tenants.

“The area is experiencing rapid growth and huge demand to increase the labour pool for large construction projects like the Site C Dam,” says Cynthia Aaesen, managing broker at Investment Revenue Realty.

“It’s likely that tenants and landlords are making more inquiries about the rules around the Residential Tenancy Act in relation to this area, and the government is trying to be proactive.”

The Ministry of Natural Gas Development and Housing and the Residential Tenancy Branch are running the educations sessions in a range of communities, including Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, Kitimat, Prince Rupert and Terrace.

This region sits on the third largest hydrocarbon resource in North America, and 18 major liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects are poised to transform the region, creating new jobs and driving a massive shift in housing, which will open up opportunities for real estate investors who are paying attention.

“I’ve heard it said, with the potential of the LNG plays, that the population in Northern B.C. would need to double in a very short time,” says Dale Merwin, an investor based in Fort St. John.

“Right now, we’re doing about 200 building starts a year, and if our population doubles we would need to be building several thousand starts a year.”

The region is characterized by discretion between supply and demand, as well as a transient tenant profile and a rise in both first-time and non-local landlords.

“There are lots of outside investors, and the Residential Tenancy Branch might be recognizing that,” adds Merwin. “There are also a lot of homeowners adding suites to their houses and renting rooms, so we’re seeing an influx of people trying to cash in on the market.”

To that end, the sessions will cover a range of topics, including: how the law applies to landlords and tenants; rental agreements and leases; repairs and maintenance; eviction and ending a tenancy; and rent increases.

“It’s important that everyone understands the process to avoid conflict and/or misunderstandings,” says Aasen.

“Given supply/demand and high rental rates, landlords can be more selective and create tenancy agreements that allow them to take advantage of this increased demand."

The Residential Tenancy Branch told CREW: "The sessions will provide landlords and tenants with an opportunity to learn more about their rights and responsibilities."

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