Tenants cautiously optimistic changes to BC housing regulations will make life easier

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A self-described “renter for life,” she says she is cautiously optimistic changes to BC housing regulations will make life easier for those unable to buy their own home, although she remains concerned about how these rules would work.

Serena Eagland, a nurse, agrees high cost of living in Metro Vancouver, she and her partner do not see a future where they could afford to buy their own home.

“The reality of public sector wages will not allow us to ever buy in Vancouver,” said Eagland, whose partner works in education.

“We’re going to rent for the rest of our lives.”

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

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Removal of age restrictions

Among the proposed changes is the removal of age restrictions on some rental units, which prevent people with children or who want to start a family from living there.

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

BC Housing Minister Murray Rankin says there are too many unused apartments due to restrictive strata bylaws. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

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

Bylaws restricting short-term rentals, such as Airbnbs, would continue to be allowed, as would the option for certain retirement communities to be age-restricted to people 55 and older.

Carmen Lansdowne stands against a tiled wall.  She is wearing a blue dress with a red design along with a blue long sleeve blouse.
Pastor Carmen Lansdowne says trying to find a rental unit for her family of four in Metro Vancouver was ‘brutal.’ (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Pastor Carmen Lansdowne says she has experienced firsthand the impact of the restrictions Eby is trying to remove after her family of four was evicted this summer.

“As a family that rents, it was brutal trying to find a three-bedroom …,” Lansdowne told CBC’s. The early 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 is optimistic about the changes, she worries that the plan still relies on people who own multiple properties choosing to rent out rooms or units instead of focusing on building more dedicated rental units.

Eagland agreed, saying she expects to be outbid for leases by speculators snapping up units to take advantage of the new rules.

“We end up having more competition,” she said.

Owners, tenants have different views on 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 taking it away.

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

“Some people don’t want to buy into a building where some of the others have to be tenants… They want to buy into a building where everyone is an owner and interested in the ownership of the building.”

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But Martin Merkli, who has rented a unit in the same building in Burnaby for 12 years, says people need to take a more favorable view of renters, pointing out that his fellow panelists were people with well-paying jobs who didn’t afford a home.

“Tenants are not the great unwashed,” he said.

“We are hard-working people.”

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