Rental units quadruple in Canada’s hottest market

Ryan Smith

The percentage of new rental units in Canada’s hottest housing market has skyrocketed in recent years, but residents are complaining that the increase hasn’t led to more affordable housing.

New rental units in Vancouver jumped from 5% of new housing units between 2005 and 2009 to about 20% between 2010 and 2014, according to a CBC News report. Mukhtar Latif, Vancouver’s housing budget chief, attributed the jump to initiatives that urged the construction of rental units over condominiums.

“(The program) has had a big impact,” Latif told CBC. “It will create affordability over time because we are getting new supply coming in.”

But many Vancouver residents say rents in the new buildings are still too steep. For instance, one of the newer buildings, a 22-storey high rise that opened in the West End in 2012, recently listed a two-bedroom apartment at nearly $3,500 per month. And Randy Helten, the head of a West End residents’ association, said the building was pitched to the community as a development that would increase the amount of affordable housing in the area.

“The city should be monitoring what kind of rents are being charged,” Helton told CBC. “At the very least, that should be feedback for the mayor and city council to see if their policies and decisions are providing affordable housing.”

That situation may change in the future, however. Latif told CBC that although the initial incentive program didn’t place rent limits on developers, the regulations have since been amended. Since 2013, developers have been required to limit rental prices in order to qualify for development waivers.

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