My Rental Housing ‘Influence’ Wish List

Earlier this month I was included in a section of Victoria-based Boulevard Magazine called The Influencers. I often say I have a face for radio, but their photographer worked wonders with the raw materials I provided and it’s flattering to be included. However, it made me think. If in my position I do perchance have influence, what is it I’m trying to lead my organization to achieve?

There is no doubt that housing in BC is a hot topic. You can’t go to a dinner party without someone bringing it up…well and Trump – but that’s an aside. I challenged myself to come up with the three main aspects of rental housing in BC that I hope my organization can influence. Here they are:

We want landlords to act with integrity

We know better than most that it’s a landlords’ market right now. However, if LandlordBC can influence anything related to this current market status it would be that all landlords operate their business in a responsible manner and (of course) according to the Residential Tenancy Act. No more contravening the RTA when it comes to fixed term tenancies with a vacate clause.  No more indiscriminate “renovictions” without proper consideration for the displaced tenants.  No more gouging renters or generally acting unethically to maximize profits. What’s important to remember is that safe and secure housing has a massive bearing on families’ lives. When people are impacted by a tight rental housing market it induces stress that carries into all aspects of life. Despite the tight market conditions it is imperative that people act with integrity.

We want landlords to get registered

Our Landlord Registry™ launched in January and we are already having a positive response. Our goal with the registry is to professionalize the industry by making it easy for landlords to educate themselves. The flip side of the registry is that renters have an opportunity to vet their potential landlords to see if they are registered, meaning they know the basics of the Residential Tenancy Act.

It is our view that getting registered in the Landlord Registry™ is the minimum standard for participation in our industry, and we expect all landlords, property managers and building managers to get registered.  We are especially targeting the secondary market (in case you’re confused, that means owners/landlords of basement suites, single family homes and, condos). The basics taught by the registry are designed to reduce conflicts between landlords and renters and ensure a thriving rental housing market. Furthermore, your participation in the registry will show that you respect the broader industry and all the professional and responsible landlords that provide homes for British Columbians.

We want more purpose-built rental housing constructed in the province

The only way out of the current market situation is to increase the supply of purpose built rental housing throughout the province. This is the long term solution, but we commend developers who are already getting onboard with this process such as Townline and Hollyburn. In markets where there is historically a tight supply of rentals available, municipalities can have a positive impact by fast tracking purpose-built rental housing applications. Demand and population growth to live in key areas of BC are likely not going to change drastically so adding to the supply is the way to go.  Purpose-built rental is expensive to build.  We need senior levels of government, in particular, to provide financial incentives if we hope to achieve the scale of development needed.  And we need cities and municipalities to create an optimal regulatory environment to increase the supply of purpose-built rental housing.

The definition of influence is: the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something. This is my wish list of what I hope we can influence as an organization and we’ll continue to work towards “raising the bar” for the rental housing industry in BC.

By David Hutniak
CEO, LandlordBC