The Vancouver Green Party is proposing a moratorium on knocking down purpose-built rental buildings in the city, but Landlord BC opposes the move.
The motion on notice, pitched by Green Party Coun. Adriane Carr, is on council’s July 10 meeting agenda.
In June, council approved a “Measures to Retain the Rental Housing Stock” report, which included asking staff to investigate ways to encourage reinvestment in existing stock, but Carr maintains that while solutions are being sought, existing rental housing may be lost to demolition, which would worsen the housing crisis.
“Rents in the rental housing that replaces the demolished or renovated older rental apartments are usually much higher — typically at market rates that are often more than twice the price,” reads part of her motion.
Carr wants demolition stopped for one year or more until staff reports back to council with recommendations arising from the June report, and measures protecting the existing rental stock are implemented.
She also wants staff’s report back to council to include measures to protect affordable rent.
Read Carr’s entire motion HERE.
However, David Hutniak, CEO of Landlord BC, told the Courier the organization is “strongly opposed” to a moratorium and it has voiced its concerns to the city.
“At a bare minimum, this proposed measure, in our view, contravenes the city’s own rate of change regulations and, will undermine Rental 100 and the newly launched Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program,” Hutniak wrote in an email to the Courier. “The more concerning reality is that a measure of this nature will do irreparable harm to both landlords and renters by contributing to the further deterioration of the existing purpose-built rental housing stock while placing the health and safety of current residents increasingly at risk.”
Hutniak says it’s well-documented through the city’s research that an increasing number of existing rental buildings have already and will continue to reach the end of their functional and economic life.
“’Deep retrofits’ of this old stock [have] been studied in-depth with the same result: the economics do not work and without responsible redevelopment we are never going to address the supply crisis,” he argues.
“Furthermore, while we are encouraged by the city’s move to approve more purpose-built rental projects, as numerous stakeholders have rightfully pointed out, the penchant for the city to approve new rental projects primarily on busy, congested and smog-filled arterial routes is categorially unfair to renters. Redevelopment is a critical to provide secure purpose-built rental housing in the neighbourhoods where renters want to live. A moratorium will have huge unintended consequences.”
Hutniak said “responsible redevelopment” of old rental stock is essential and Landlord BC, and the broader industry is working with the city to see that when redevelopment of a property is contemplated “residents are treated fairly and with respect.”
“Responsible redevelopment” of existing stock, he added, accompanied by “resulting additional density” will allow the city to add additional new units of secure rental housing in the community.
“A moratorium on the redevelopment of these existing older buildings for any period of time is simply incomprehensible,” he said.
Landlord BC insists the health of the rental market depends on investors wanting to put capital into creating new purpose-built rental housing, but if city rules become too restrictive, it argues investment will go elsewhere.