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Victoria rental housing market and related issues discussion


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#61 Guest_Marcat_*

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Posted 20 September 2008 - 10:23 AM

LOL Wow, this has become a complete gong show of a thread.

A condo is no different than an apartment building, other than instead of a big corporation who really doesn't care about its renter, its an individual that owns the condo unit and thus cares a little bit more about their tenants and ensuring they have quality tenants and that their units are kept in a respectable manner, it also ensure (at least from my own personal experiences) when you have a problem with something in a rental condo, it gets replaced or fixed with speed, whereas you live in one of the "apartments" that are owned by a large multi-national or national REIT you have a "I don't really care" attitude from the onsite management about any problems, they take forever to get fixed and when you take it too the head office, it takes even longer to get fixed. (I've both lived in REIT buildings as well as done extensive contracting work for them in BC and Alberta) You wind up paying more for a rental condo, than an "apartment" simply because a rental condo is usually brand new, offers far more amenities as well as is modern, up to date and relatively problem free in terms of issues with appliances and such, whereas many apartment buildings haven't been updated since the 80's...Further more...I quite frankly think that many of the condos around the city look a helluva lot better than View Towers, the Chelsea (on View)...and many other rental apartment buildings across the Greater Vic Region...

#62 amor de cosmos

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 07:17 AM

is this the right thread for this? what if a landlord wants to tear down his/her 4-plex to replace it with a 200-unit highrise? I guess they'd have to build it in Langford instead. :P

City readies ban on demolition of rental units

Affordable-housing crunch prompts council's "emergency" bylaw proposal

Bill Cleverley, Times Colonist
Published: Friday, October 03, 2008

Victoria councillors plan to ban the demolition of rental units in an effort to help preserve the city's supply of affordable housing.

The proposed "housing emergency bylaw" that council will likely consider next week would ban the demolition of residential buildings with more than three units unless deemed unsafe for human occupation or the builder plans to build new subsidized rental or affordable units on the site.

As well, councillors have directed staff to amend the city's official community plan to signal concern about the protection of affordable and rental housing units being lost to conversion into new strata condos or demolition.

Victoria has a 0.3 per cent vacancy rate, the lowest in Canada.

"The problem is while we're creating lots of new housing units, they tend to be high-end housing units, typically condos that are way beyond the reach of most people who work in the city of Victoria," said Rob Woodland, director of legislative and regulatory services.

"We did a fair bit of analysis on it some time ago for council. There's no dispute that there's lots of condos coming onto the market, it's just that typically they're in the $300- to $400-a-square-foot price range that the working stiff can't afford."

The OCP would be revised to require a developer looking to rezone a rental property with more than four units into strata units to provide an equal number of affordable units on site, or make an equivalent cash contribution to the city's Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

The OCP policy change would also signal the city's intent to secure a suitable tenant relocation plan for the tenants being displaced at the time of rezoning of a building greater than four units.

Coun. Geoff Young worried that banning the demolition of some buildings could actually contribute to the loss of housing stock. Young said the replacement and renewal of housing stock is a normal process that takes place over time.

"Once we try to freeze or arrest that process, we're going to get some people reacting in ways we don't want to happen," he said.

Young added that units could be left empty or people could defer maintenance to render them "unsafe."

Other councillors, including Pam Madoff and Helen Hughes, said Victoria can't afford to wait.

"I think it's very clear that we are truly dealing with a crisis. I don't think we can overestimate the severity of the situation in the city and it is certainly worsening," said Madoff.

"The simple fact that we're considering this as a council is going to send a message that finally, after years and years and years of wanting to get this issue on the table, that this is a crisis and we do need to take extraordinary measures," she said.

Madoff said she felt "demolition by neglect" is only a remote possibility that might occur in one in 100 cases.

"I think it's truly managing the crisis with the only tools we have available to us," she said of the proposed bylaw.

She said Vancouver has implemented similar measures and even requires replacement housing stock be built in the same neighbourhood.

http://www.canada.co...e0-53bc119da441

#63 zoomer

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 08:56 AM

"I think it's very clear that we are truly dealing with a crisis. I don't think we can overestimate the severity of the situation in the city and it is certainly worsening," said Madoff.

Hmm... is this the same Pam Madoff who has opposed most of the new condo construction downtown as long as she has been on city council?? Now, all of a sudden she proclaims there is a crisis which the city must deal with...!!

More housing stock will lead to lower prices overall. After reading the real estate thread everyone there is fairly certain that over supply on the market leads to lower prices, which will inevitably lead to lower rental prices. I have a cousin who rented out a good size unit in the Corazon with another couple for $1,500 per month. Split between them it was only $500 each for a brand new unit, which is infinitely better than a basement suite in James Bay.

Pam and Wayne Hollohan say they oppose these condos because they are luxury buildings, which students and hospitality staff can't afford to buy. So, on these same grounds should we oppose any new housing developments?! What about townhouses in James Bay? When was the last time a student could afford those? And why are new condos "luxury" (and in their mind evil boxes of hell which must be must never see the light of day) when the average cost is less than a single family home in Victoria? A 500 to 1000 square foot concrete box is hardly luxury, and it doesn't matter if you're cutting your carrots on a granite countertop. Luxury is having a backyard and 2000 square foot house with 2 cars parked out front. Condos have way less of an environmental impact than SFDs, are less expensive, will reduce sprawl (assuming effective planning), and can be one way (although others are required) of dealing with our rental crisis.

From my perspective Pam and Wayne simply hate tall buildings, prefer a small town lifestyle, and really don't care about the rental crisis. If I'm wrong I'd like to see what they've done to address it, and then I'd be willing to change my mind.

#64 G-Man

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 08:58 AM

Actually I was very worried about this bylaw and I think that there is a chance that the city for once made a somewhat sensible compromise here. There are options open to the developers in how they want to proceed should they want to redevelop including making a fair contibution to the city's housing fund. I was worried that the limit would not allow old buildings to be torn down but instead a developer just has to include an equal amount of equal cost housing in their project. Exactly what I wanted to see. I could see how a developer could benefit from doing two projects as well. Perhaps putting a new low cost housing building on a cheap piece of land while building a new market building on the original lot. Seems fair to me.

#65 aastra

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 10:06 AM

Yeah, and there are also plenty of old rental apartments in Fairfield, James Bay, and Vic West that waste a lot of space on surface parking. You could easily and comfortably fit a new condo building and a new rental building on a lot of those properties if the parking were put underground.

But I'm still detecting a major streak of hypocrisy here. Two large rental buildings were proposed for James Bay just a couple of years ago, and no demolition would have been required because the new buildings would have been built on parking lots....and yet the reaction from the community and the city was overwhelmingly negative.

#66 Bernard

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 10:44 AM

Pure rental buildings are very unappealing to build these days.

First of all you have tie up a lot of capital for a very long time when you can build the same building and sell it and make your profit upfront.

Secondly, property taxes on pure rental buildings are steep. Maybe we need a system where property taxes are the responsibility of the people living in a housing unit?

Third, local government likes to mess with the business model, case in point is the new by-law. Owners do not have certainty of action with respect to their building, this reduces the sale value of their investment and reduces capital gains. The rate of return on the investment looks even worse.

Third, most tenants are great, but enough of them out there are a pain in the f*****g a**. Why would anyone want to deal with the bad ones? The laws make it hard to get rid of someone once they are in a unit and paying their rent.

We have seen the transition from large scale rental buildings to rentals on a dispersed small scale - condos and secondary suites being the best examples.

If we want to relieve the housing crunch, we need more units to be built. Supply and demand does work. Build enough condos and you will have a lot more rental units available. People will move out of the basements into the better units and then people having trouble to find anything will be able to get into the basement suites.

#67 Caramia

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 11:00 AM

I'm not an expert in these things, but in my understanding there are three more points for that list....

Federal tax laws are set up so that rental buildings are taxed as passive investments - like trust funds, rather than active investments - like a small business, when in fact they take as much active effort to run as a small business.

GST is charged on every element of designing and constructing a building. It can be recouped if you sell it but if you rent it, you can't charge GST.

There is a 4% rent increase cap on rental properties in BC (which I think is a good thing) but recently costs for maintaining (let alone building) these buildings have gone up sometimes as much as 15% per year.
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#68 D.L.

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 11:00 AM

I do not agree with this action. I feel that it is a destablizing restriction on the housing market. As long as people rely on their government to take care of them they are never going to learn to make it on their own.

#69 Newlywednotnearlydead

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 12:19 PM

If the city is concerned about affordable housing, why not enter into a P3 with a development company? The city can offer tax breaks or zoning favors in another area in exchange for building a large rental building like the ones found in James Bay. A couple more buildings like that would go a long way to alleviating some of the stress on the rental market.

The service industry sucks enough as it is, if people can't afford to live in town, it's only going to get worse. We need places that low-wage workers can afford to rent.

#70 Mike K.

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 01:23 PM

Newlywed, your idea is too rational to fly in this town.

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#71 Sue Woods

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 02:05 PM

Opps - pls remove post. Thx

#72 Joseph

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 02:48 PM

If the city is concerned about affordable housing, why not enter into a P3 with a development company? The city can offer tax breaks or zoning favors in another area in exchange for building a large rental building like the ones found in James Bay. A couple more buildings like that would go a long way to alleviating some of the stress on the rental market.


I think it's safe to say that any large-scale, affordable development would have to be supported through commercial third-parties. I don't think this is such a radical idea, and although I don't generally support 'p3s' I agree that this is a distinct possibility.

Although I also believe that the overall price of housing is largely affected by City Hall's flexibility in accepting developments that do little to forward our real (affordable) housing demand. With stricter, clearer civic visions and regulations, developments would only be created with profit margins that weren't reliant on special 'allowances', leaving more potential for the integration of true affordable units. Especially since the demand for land from mainstream, upscale condo developers would decrease.

I know this sounds harsh but at some point we have to review the situation of our housing and ask why we continue to be so flexible with developments in a development-conservative city with record-high property prices and an affordablility crisis.

#73 Baro

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 03:09 PM

Remove the red tape and get rid of the political uncertainty, which can add up to a million in the cost of some developments, and we'll see more rental housing, affordable housing, attainable housing, environmentally friendly housing, innovative housing, and just plain more housing.

The problem is that a quick and simple development permit process will never come to be in this city. The NIMBY's want a system where the current zoning and neighborhood plans are stuck to religiously with no flexibility, while more progressive citizens and the development industry would actually love set rules to follow but all our zones would have to be buffed up in order for them to realistically make a go of any projects. If anyone in city hall tried to force developers to stick to our current zones we'd see almost no new housing in the city and prices skyrocket. But if anyone in city hall tried to implement a new system of zones that actually fit the city's current and future needs they'd be lynched by the NIMBY's and CA's. So instead we get this lovely system we have today that forces prices up, quality down, and turns every project into an emotionally charged shouting match.
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#74 amor de cosmos

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 07:27 AM

according to the CRD's State of the Region 2008 report, the Victoria CMA has 500 fewer rental units than we had in 2001, partially due to condo conversions. see p.59 here, esp the graph:
http://www.crd.bc.ca...heRegionweb.pdf
so I think Bernard is actually right; if we built more condo buildings, and kept the rental buildings for rentals, we wouldn't have this shortage.

#75 mat

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 08:25 AM

according to the CRD's State of the Region 2008 report, the Victoria CMA has 500 fewer rental units than we had in 2001, partially due to condo conversions. see p.59 here, esp the graph:
http://www.crd.bc.ca...heRegionweb.pdf
so I think Bernard is actually right; if we built more condo buildings, and kept the rental buildings for rentals, we wouldn't have this shortage.


Would 500 extra rental units satisfy the demand? Uvic and Camosun are losing potential students due to lack of affordable and adequate rental housing. The average price for a student room in a shared suite was $375 p/m in 2005, it is now $550 p/m. City operations, like VicPD, are having difficulty recruiting new talent as applicants due to housing issues...not sure what number of new rentals are required, but it is likely far more than 500.

#76 amor de cosmos

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 12:12 PM

I think we probably need a lot more than 500. I wonder when the Victoria CMA last had this number of rental units. I thought their number would grow roughly with the population but obviously it hasn't. In 2006 the Victoria CMA had 18000 more people than it had in 2001. Yet apartments kept getting converted into condos, so today we have 500 fewer rental units than we had back then. No wonder our vacancy rate is the lowest in the country, and nobody can afford to live here!

#77 Joseph

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 12:30 PM

http://www.bclocalne...s/30274039.html

Frankly, I think Geoff Young has a valid concern, which could be rectified by changing one simple thing...

The way it is now

the Housing Emergency Bylaw would prohibit demolition permits being issued for buildings with three or more units unless the owner can show the building is unsafe for human occupation, or will replace lost rental units with new ones.


The way it should be

the Housing Emergency Bylaw would prohibit demolition permits being issued for buildings with three or more units unless the owner can show the building is unsafe for human occupation, and will replace lost rental units with new ones.


We already have a lot of shady/leaky/unhealthy and downright unsafe living quarters, and this bylaw would do nothing to preserve those beds. Instead, it would just encourage a similar degradation to other rental units.

I like the idea behind this bylaw but the way it's structured now sounds open to a few accidents (or 'accidents') just waiting to happen.

#78 amor de cosmos

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 12:43 PM

yesterday's news, already discussed here:
http://www.vibrantvi...read.php?t=3154

#79 Joseph

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 03:59 PM

Ah ha, I knew I'd seen it somewhere! (and I'd even posted a response...I'm losing track of all these housing threads). Apologies - could a mod merge, perhaps?

Sorry again.

#80 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 09:43 PM

according to the CRD's State of the Region 2008 report, the Victoria CMA has 500 fewer rental units than we had in 2001, partially due to condo conversions.


I haven't looked through the document amor linked to, but I have a question. We hear that we're losing rental units to "condo conversion," but are there specific numbers?

When we talk of losing rental to condo conversion, I bet most people immediately think of rental apartment buildings converted to condos. But in that statistic (500 fewer rental units), we're seeing an overall loss of rental, which would include rental units lost because the building fell over/ became unfit for human habitation (I only bring this up because elsewhere we talked about losing rentals that way), as well as houses that were either single family homes or rooming houses converted to condos.

I'd be interested in some specific numbers around buildings that were rental apartment buildings (not rooming houses or SFHs), and were then converted to condos.

In my neighborhood, what I've often seen is this: a slightly run-down single-family home -- which is perhaps a rental unit or rooming house -- gets "rehabbed," which means it gets lifted and bumped. The former SFH is converted into a 4 to 6 unit condo conversion, each unit reaching the market at $400K to nearly $600K.

But, here's the hypocrisy rub: typically, no one in the neighborhood screams about this, because overall the development still looks like a house -- even though it's now a 4 or 5 or more "family" dwelling.

(Not to mention that it's totally priced out of the "affordable" range.)

(Nor to mention that this sort of conversion to condo has nothing much to do with building condo towers downtown.)

No one in the neighborhood screams about this, 'cause optically it's all good, as they say.

(If it were a concrete tower going in, there'd be an uproar about how it's all "luxury" housing. Somehow, a $500K condo in a converted SFH isn't luxury?)

That conversion could well have been part of the statistics of how we're seeing a destruction of rundown rental to build high-priced real estate.

My question is, when the city or anyone talks about the conversion of rental to condo, are they including these lift-and-bump jobs in the core neighborhoods? And if they are, are these ex-SFH-turned-MFHs (which no one in the neighborhoods complains about) being used as a stick with which to beat condo developments that look like condo developments?

So much in Victoria is about optics, about how things look -- I mean, we have people running for council who think that human scale means being able to recognize people on rooftops, for heaven's sake.

I want some real numbers, some math, not just optics, or "common sense" (often wrong), or how things feel.

The reason I ask is because I'm having a hard time figuring out where these condo conversions are happening, aside from the ones I've seen (and described), which ironically no one objects to since the optics (they still look like a regular house) are all good.
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