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David Eby's plan to remove rental restrictions in stratas gets mixed reaction

Eby’s plan to end rental restrictions tough on small stratas: Gioventu
Housing in Victoria's Fairfield neighbourhood. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Smaller strata corporations will struggle if they are forced to take on additional duties as landlords under MLA David Eby’s proposal to remove rental restrictions, says the executive director of the Condominium Home Owners Association of B.C.

That’s because smaller ­corporations are typically run by volunteer boards, says Tony Gioventu.

They are self-managed because it isn’t cost-effective to hire a property manager.

These self-managed ­properties would face additional pressure to serve as landlords for absentee owners who rent out units, Gioventu said.

“I think the small stratas across the province will really pay the price for this.”

B.C. has about 34,000 strata corporations, representing close to one million units, he said.

Gioventu estimates about 75 per cent of these are smaller-sized corporations, with less than 50 units.

In any case, those smaller, older buildings do not have a large pool of affordable units which could go into the rental market, he said.

Rental restrictions are mainly on buildings constructed prior to 2010. New condominiums normally do not have restrictions against renters.

It is already a challenge getting people to volunteer to sit on strata council boards, Gioventu said.

“Nobody really anticipates when they move into a smaller strata the amount of work that is involved in day to day management and the operations of the property.”

The province should amend the Residential Tenancy Act and the Strata Property Act to give strata corporations the authority to deal with tenants, he said.

Eby, a candidate to be leader of the B.C. NDP, unrolled a package of proposals this week to help ease the housing shortage for renters and buyers who can not find affordable housing.

Tony Zarsadias, chief executive of Island Realm Real Estate, said abolishing rental bylaws would be favourable for most owners in terms of the value of their home and will also open up more housing to the rental ­market.

Generally, the fewer restrictions there are on a ­property, the more valuable it is, he said.

Eby is also proposing an anti-flipping tax which would apply to sales of residential properties sold within two years.

“The addition of the ­‘flipping tax’ will likely have unintended consequences because it will slow down the pre-sales ­developers need to get their projects off the ground. This could hurt the addition of more housing,” Zarsadias said.

Douglas King, executive director of the Together Against Poverty Society, said his main criticism of Eby’s proposals is that they would not provide immediate relief.

It is a plan to “push supply as much as possible in the hopes that we reach a point where supply is so great that prices start to go down.”

If the range of measures did come in, it would take about five years for renters to get any noticeable relief, King said. “That’s not good enough.”

King favours regulation, such as preventing large increases in rent between tenancies.

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