News / Vancouver

Vancouver rents on track to jump 20% in 2016

Data from online listings show rent rates mirrored the steep increase seen in housing prices in 2016

Apartment buildings in Vancouver's West End. A UBC economics professor says rents in Vancouver are on track to increase 20 per cent this year.

Jennifer Gauthier/Metro File

Apartment buildings in Vancouver's West End. A UBC economics professor says rents in Vancouver are on track to increase 20 per cent this year.

Vancouver rents are on track to rise a whopping 20 per cent this year, according to an economist at the University of British Columbia who has been tracking online rental listings.

“On an annualized basis, I’m finding rents are going up since March… (and) if it kept this pace it would be 20 per cent for the year,” said Tom Davidoff, who started collecting rental listings data from Craigslist this March. Between April and August, rents for both one and two bedrooms increased 15 per cent, according to the data Davidoff collected.

That increase is far above the 4.3 per cent increase reported by Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation between 2014 and 2015, and it mirrors the steep 32 per cent increase seen in housing prices between July 2016 and July 2015. (CMHC gathers its data through telephone surveys.)

It’s also the smaller, less expensive suites that have been increasing in price the most, Davidoff said.

The data backs up stories reported by Metro and other media: younger renters and lower income people are having an incredibly difficult time finding a place to live in the city.

Chris Bell, a 33-year old cook, told Metro his story of being evicted by his landlord, who planned to renovate every suite in the Mount Pleasant apartment building. Bell said he was offered the chance to move into a renovated unit, but his rent for a two bedroom would have risen from $1,525 to $2,000 — a 31 per cent increase.

Rental advocates say the increasing use of fixed-term rental agreements — which allow landlords to renegotiate an entirely new lease when the term is up — have resulted in increases between 10 and 30 per cent. That’s far above B.C.’s current rent increase cap of 2.9 per cent a year for a month-to-month rental agreement.

Even when they can pay the higher rates, would-be renters report losing out to others in the intense competition for sparse apartments.

“When you hear the sad stories about (young) people who are having a really hard time finding a rental and getting priced out, (the data is) consistent with those stories,” Davidoff said.

While CMHC publishes rental rate and vacancy statistics every October, month-by-month information is not available. CMHC’s October 2015 survey showed the average for a two-bedroom in Vancouver was $1,643, a 4.9 per cent increase from the October 2014 average of $1,571.

CMHC also tracks rental rates for condos being rented, which tend to be more expensive than purpose-built apartment buildings: in October 2015 the average for a two bedroom was $2,000.

CMHC analysts are expecting to see an increase in rental rates across Metro Vancouver when this year’s survey is completed, said market analyst Richard Sam. A very low 0.6 per cent vacancy rate, strong job growth and more people moving to Metro Vancouver are all putting pressure on rents.

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