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Home > Housing Issues > Rental Housing Supply 

Rental Housing Supply

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation - Rental Market Reports for Major Cities

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation - Canada and Provincial Highlights

Rental markets in British Columbia’s metropolitan regions have extremely low vacancy rates.  At the same time, rents are amongst the highest in Canada.

Numerous housing policy observers blame this situation on the shortage of new purpose-built rental housing construction in British Columbia.   Purpose-built rental housing means apartment buildings rather than basement suites or condos. Most of this purpose-built rental housing stock in BC urban centres is now twenty or thirty years old.   Developers have constructed practically no new purpose-built rental housing construction since this time, a problem that the BC Government noted as long ago as 1995.  

According to the most recent statistics, the purpose-built rental housing stock in major British Columbian cities has stagnated or in some cases declined; across Greater Vancouver there are 10,000 fewer rental-units in the 2006 census compared to the 2001 census, a decline of 4 percent.

Some of the reasons for the shortage of purpose-built rental housing include:

  • Differential federal tax treatment that discourages investment in rental properties; 
  • Exclusionary zoning policies in most municipalities in British Columbia that inhibit the building of more affordable housing or rental housing

Solutions include changes to the federal government's tax treatment towards rental property investments, property tax breaks, and municipal actions including the fast-track development of purpose-built rental housing projects and the relaxation of parking requirements.

For more information see:

STIR Program

The City of Vancouver has approved the Short Term Incentives for Rental (STIR) Program which seeks to address this problem.  Some of the program components include exempting rental housing developers from paying development cost charges, reducing the minimum size requirements of rental housing units, and relaxing the parking requirements on rental housing. For more information, see:

The City of Vancouver

The City of Vancouver's Rental Housing Strategy is being developed in four phases. Phase I, from March to December 2009, involved specialized studies of the rental market to provide an understanding of the underlying market forces, financial structures, investment behaviours, range of rental choices and rental management practices. Issues investigated included current and future demand, the state of purpose-built stock, and impact of rented condos and secondary suites.



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