50 Years of Learning From and Writing History
Fifty years ago, an influx of rental housing development shaped legislation and helped solidify landlord associations in BC
Seven years ago, the BC Apartment Owners and Managers Association (BCAOMA), the Rental Owners and Managers Society of BC (ROMS BC), and the Rental Housing Council (RHC) merged to form LandlordBC, a united and progressive voice for BC’s residential rental industry. With this merger the three organizations, each with their own rich histories, become a single organization that built on these strong foundations while also looking to the future. Our association’s history is tied directly with the industry that it represents – through the legislation that has governed it and the types of landlords that have operated within it. Today, LandlordBC is Canada’s largest landlord association and we continue to build on this collective knowledge that was gained through the history of our industry and legislation in our province.
Through the mid- to-late 60s a handful of small landlord associations formed, merged, and changed names. It was a nebulous time, with formerly loose associations beginning to tighten their focus and mandate to become the type of industry association we would recognize today. It was around this time that BCAOMA found its roots, though at the time it was called the Greater Vancouver Apartment Owners Association. Over in Victoria, the Greater Victoria Apartment Owners Association, a predecessor to ROMS BC, was formed in October of 1970. Hence, this October LandlordBC is celebrating its 50th anniversary, not only because 50 years ago ROMS BC was officially formed but also because it marks a significant shift in rental practices and, in many ways, a reimagining of the of the residential rental industry.
In the spring of 1970, the Provincial Government, led by Premier W. A. C. Bennett and the Social Credit Party introduced “Bill 20; An Act to Amend the Landlord and Tenant Act” – the first comprehensive amendment to the residential rental legislation since confederation. Prior to the 1970 amendment the Landlord and Tenant Act was a complex piece of legislation nearly directly copied from British common law. While at the core of the original Landlord and Tenant Act were some fundamental rights based on the principal that a man’s house was his castle, it provided little protections for tenants and landlords. With a quickly changing rental market and demographic of tenants there was significant pressure to put into place a piece of legislation that had modern solutions for the then modern problems.
These modern problems were brought on by an influx of new rental stock and a new demographic of tenants – tenants that organized and demanded more protections. The first of these protections came in 1969 when the NPA-led Vancouver City Council voted to create the Vancouver Rental Accommodation Grievance Board. This bylaw created the momentum that both landlord and tenant advocacy groups needed to solidify their agendas and pressure the Provincial Government to update the Landlord and Tenant Act with representation from all stakeholders. The then separate associations lobbied the government to ensure a balanced approach was applied to this new legislation.
Throughout the years the Vancouver and Victoria associations continued their advocacy efforts both independently and sometimes in conjunction through the Rental Housing Council of BC. The changes to the legislation in 1970 were not the end but rather a beginning of a process that continues to this day, most recently in the establishment of the 2018 Rental Housing Taskforce. The Taskforce consulted with individual landlords and tenants and with stakeholders, including LandlordBC and various tenant advocacy groups, to begin a process of assessing and reevaluating residential rental legislation to ensure it remains relevant in an ever-changing industry.
Over the last 50 years landlords and tenants have seen massive changes to our industry. With significant development of purpose-built rental housing throughout the late 60s and 70s, to a near standstill for 30 years. Many communities saw no new purpose-built rental at all. In its place, there was the rise of the secondary rental market. This new sector of our industry was made up of mom and pop landlords renting out their basements, second homes, and eventually condos. This secondary market valued our association’s advocacy efforts and, additionally, looked to us as a source of reliable and relevant information.
The professionalization of our industry through education has become a primary goal of LandlordBC and as our industry evolved to be more complex, we have had to diversify our offerings. In 1970, landlords had to have an understanding of and operate under essentially one piece of legislation: The Landlord and Tenant Act. Now, in addition to the Residential Tenancy Act we have other statutes such as the Human Rights Code and the Personal Information Protection Act which provide direction for our industry. To address both the various pieces of legislation and the fact they frequently change, LandlordBC has built on our history of proving timely education and shifted to a robust online education offerings, with members-only guides, webinars, and an award winning self-paced I Rent it Righttm course.
From our roots as several smaller associations representing specific urban centers to a province-wide and nationally recognized organization we are today, LandlordBC is thankful for our history and for the people that helped write it. We do not know what the next 50 years will bring but LandlordBC will continue to adapt to and lead in the changes yet to come.