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Comment: Eby's proposed strata changes will raise costs and create problems

We are being told that our lives must change
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Premier David Eby's decision to remove rental restrictions on condominiums will inevitably raise condo prices and make home ownership even harder, Cindy Cox writes. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

A commentary by a Victoria resident.

Premier David Eby has decided that to increase housing availability, he will decide how we all live in our homes. He is going to make those of us who live in non-rental condo buildings allow rentals.

Debate in the house was shut down, and if he will not listen to the opposition then he probably will not listen to the public, either.

However, I cannot stay quiet when my very way of living is being dictated to me.

My husband and I were both born and raised in Victoria. In 2004 my husband was told by his employer, the B.C. government, that he could accept a job elsewhere, or quit and lose his pension.

Our only choice was to move. We returned to Victoria on his retirement in 2011, but by then had been priced out of the housing market for single-family homes.

Our choice was rent or buy a condo. We looked for more than a year to find the perfect spot to land upon our return to our home city.

We had always had wonderful neighbours and we were able to find a small building of 28 units, a community that cared for and looked after each other. We have been most content in our choice.

Now we are being told that our lives must change.

We are being told that we must allow rentals in our home. We have a strata council of volunteers that do a wonderful job of looking after our building, repairs, daily upkeep, maintenance as necessary and all the jobs that keep us happy and safe.

Would absentee landlords volunteer for council? I think not.

Would absentee landlords take time to vote on issues that are necessary to keep the building running well and do necessary upkeep? I think not.

Would absentee landlords just sit back and see the income that comes from their rental without caring about the health of the building? I think that is a definite possibility.

So now the strata council volunteers would potentially have to become landlords. It would make it much harder to find volunteers — so then who would look after the day-to-day running of the building?

We might have to hire a company to do that, increasing all owners’ costs. Those landlords could just increase the rent, the rest of us may have to scramble to find the extra funds.

Often when we have an owner who has decided to sell, they tell us that the real-estate agent had told them “I could sell your unit faster and for more money if you allowed rentals in the building.”

How this will increase a supply of affordable housing is hard to fathom. It will just increase the costs of condos.

The mean cost of a condo in Victoria in October was $539,500. If a down payment of 20 per cent is needed, that would be about $100,000, leaving a mortgage of about $435,000.

At an interest rate of five per cent over five years, the monthly mortgage fee would be about $2,500. Add to that the monthly condo fee of about $500 plus taxes, maintenance and upkeep and the rent would be upward of $3,500 per month.

As an investor you would want to make money, not break even, which will push the price even higher and, if the price of condos increases, so will that monthly rent.

I understand the need for housing. We have an adult son who lives with us because he can not afford to rent or own in the city he was born in and considers home.

It seems like an easy choice for the powers-that-be to make it look like they are taking steps to solve the housing issue.

This comes at the cost of more unaffordable housing options in a city where our children can not afford to live, without a real solution.

>>> To comment on this article, write a letter to the editor: letters@timescolonist.com

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