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Victoria rental housing market and related issues discussion


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#81 Mike K.

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Posted 05 October 2008 - 10:59 AM

Excellent points, Ms. B.

I can think of several apartment conversions to condos:
- Sutton building(s) (10-storeys) - on Johnson and Cook (can't remember whether it was only one or both towers that were converted
- Ovation in Esquimalt at Admirals - 3-storey apartment converted to condos with additional floor added
- Castana - was there or wasn't there an older rental apartment that came down to make way for Castana?

There are a few others but they escape me.

As for condos displacing rentals, has this actually happened anywhere in the CRD save for (if at all, hence my question above) Castana?

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#82 Caramia

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Posted 05 October 2008 - 11:06 AM

Yes there was for Castansa - One of the issues that the neighbourhood had with the developer was that he had deferred maintenance on the apartment, and also the house that he owned, to the point where they needed to come down due to dereliction. There was also another rental house (that housed 6), and an owned house of the same era that were in fantastic shape.
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#83 amor de cosmos

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Posted 05 October 2008 - 12:16 PM

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.


here are some details from the same page as the graph of the net number of additional residential units (p59):

Existing New Stock of Rental Units

What is Being Measured?
This indicator measures the number of existing and new rental units, including rented condo units, in the Victoria Census Metropolitan Area.

Why is this Indicator Important?
Rental units are a critical component of the Region’s affordable housing stock. By tracking the rental stock and construction of new units the indicator can monitor this component of the RGS and RHAS.

Target
To achieve a 10% annual increase in the production of new rental units of all types by 2011.

How Are We Doing?
In 2007, there were a total of 24,069 existing apartments and rowhouses for rent in the Victoria CMA, nearly 500 units below the reported value in 2001.

In 2007, there was a larger than normal loss of marked rental apartment units (204 units) due to purchases made by B.C. Housing for conversion to affordable housing.

Roughly 50 of the 200 units were being converted from private rental stock to public housing stock under renovation at the time of the survey and will return to the market in the future. The remaining losses were due to conversion to small condominium developments (3 units/building) or conversion back to single family homes or duplexes. These housing types do not fall within the CMHC rental survey.

http://www.crd.bc.ca...eRegionwebA.pdf

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.

That's hilarious. I can totally imagine that.

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.

...& want to limit building heights to an arbitrary number of stories like... 9! or 4! Actually I have a feeling that some people think a double-digit number of stories might be too "metropolis" for Victoria, even downtown.

#84 Coreyburger

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Posted 05 October 2008 - 01:19 PM

This issue isn't just lost units (I seriously doubt that the condo development offsets this). It is affordable rental units. Any replacement just means the cost of renting becomes higher.

#85 mat

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Posted 05 October 2008 - 07:56 PM

This issue isn't just lost units (I seriously doubt that the condo development offsets this). It is affordable rental units. Any replacement just means the cost of renting becomes higher.


...and that feeds into the secondary suites issue, most of which are not included in municipal/CMHC numbers, regulated, or even taxed. It is impossible to determine the actual number of rental units available, or average cost. (unless Uvic off campus housing listings, craigslist and all the rest are included)

What is obvious is that there is a huge demand for rental units in Victoria - and for numerous reasons (rental vs mortgage, flexibility, location and economic uncertainty). It is also something that cannot be fixed 'immediately' - unless municipalities open all SFH to allow some form of conversion.

#86 Mike K.

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Posted 05 October 2008 - 08:18 PM

This issue isn't just lost units (I seriously doubt that the condo development offsets this). It is affordable rental units. Any replacement just means the cost of renting becomes higher.


But don't forget upward mobility. New rental units may rent for more than older rental units, but individuals who want to continue renting but would prefer newer digs vacate older, more affordable space for others.

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#87 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 19 October 2008 - 10:52 AM

Op-ed in today's T-C:

New condos would help solve the city's rental crisis
David Karp, Times Colonist
Published: Sunday, October 19, 2008


With a vacancy rate of 0.3 per cent, it's clear Victoria has a housing crisis. But the city's response will only make matters worse in the long run.

Earlier this month, the City of Victoria drafted a housing emergency bylaw, which, if passed, will ban the demolition of residential buildings with four or more units -- unless the building is unsafe or the owner plans to build subsidized rental or affordable housing units on site.

The idea behind the bylaw is well-intentioned. With so few rental units in the city, it makes sense to hold on to the housing stock that we have. The bylaw will likely help the situation in the short term by making sure the level of rental housing stays constant.

But ultimately, the 0.3-per-cent vacancy rate can be explained by supply and demand. The demand for housing in Victoria is very high right now -- we have a beautiful city with a strong economy, so it's no surprise that lots of people want to live here. The region's population is growing by more than 3,000 people per year.

But despite rising demand, the supply of new housing is decreasing. According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., total housing starts in Greater Victoria -- the number of new homes being built -- decreased in 2007 and is expected to fall again this year. Multiple-family housing starts, which include new apartment buildings, are expected to fall more than 20 per cent both this year and next.

With an increasing demand for housing in Victoria, but with falling supply, it's no wonder that our vacancy rate is so low. The solution to the housing crisis is simple -- increase the housing supply. With more bedrooms available, the vacancy rate should fall. As the number of units on the market increases, prices should also fall, as there won't be as many other people competing to buy or rent the same place.

Victoria needs to encourage the development of new housing, but its proposed bylaw does the opposite. By placing heavy restrictions on new housing development, the city will make it less attractive for developers to build new housing and increase the number of bedrooms in the city.

Think about it from a developer's point of view: If you have a chunk of cash to inject into developing new condos, you're going to build wherever you can make the biggest profit.

And if Victoria requires you to sell your new building as affordable housing at lower prices, you're going to look elsewhere.

On the other hand, if Victoria were to relax its zoning bylaws to make it more attractive for developers, we'd see more buildings popping up. Some people are concerned that without a bylaw, these buildings might be expensive condos as opposed to rental housing. That's very likely, given the amount of money that can be made selling condos.

But new condos should have a trickle-down effect on the rental market. Some people who move into new condos will move out of rental properties, freeing these for new renters. And some people who purchase new condos will rent them out.

If Victoria's bylaw passes, we'll see rental units stay constant. But it won't solve the problem -- only increasing the housing supply will decrease the vacancy rate and drive down rental prices in the long run.

Unfortunately, the strict rules included in the bylaw may be enough to drive developers elsewhere.

David Karp is an economics student and former editor-in-chief of the Martlet, the student newspaper at the University of Victoria.

© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2008

Have to admit that I'm not keen on his use of the words "trickle down"... But agree that the rental demo ban is a bit of engineering that will probably have side effects not taken into account...
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#88 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 19 October 2008 - 10:56 AM

website for David Karp: http://www.davidkarp.ca/

...not to be confused with the very young web entrepreneur who invented tumblr.com..!. :-)
When you buy a game, you buy the rules. Play happens in the space between the rules.

#89 Mike K.

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Posted 19 October 2008 - 11:08 AM

Only in Victoria will the government deny the development of rental towers one year then lament the lack of rental housing the next.

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#90 roamwulf

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Posted 19 October 2008 - 08:27 PM

I've enjoyed reading the discussion so far - frankly, I am very concerned about this move by council and the message it will send to the development community. In particular, and not yet mentioned in the thread, is the fact that the by-law captures all demolition permits INCLUDING those issued prior to the enacting of this by-law. Demo permits that have been issued for sites with existing rental (over 3 suites) and not fully acted upon for whatever reasons are now going to be held to the standard of the new by-law. This can and will put projects that have been in the development pipeline for many months in jeopardy (even more than the market melt-down and financing crunch has already done). The by-law is only supposed to last for 6 months but I would expect it will be renewed and extended since nothing substantive enough to end this 'emergency' can happen in 6 months - especially not in Victoria!

#91 aastra

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 12:33 PM

A lot of Victorians really do speak with forked tongues when it comes to rental housing, don't they? Everybody wants more rental housing, but whenever a serious proposal comes along it seems there's always a mountain of opposition.

#92 G-Man

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 12:52 PM

That is because the majority of rental housing in the city is four storey apartments that are aging but they are in effect holding back increases in density in the neighbourhoods outside of the downtown.

New rental buildings especially large ones may create solid arguments to allow for the removal of rental buildings and replacement with higher density buildings in the neighbourhoods.

Not a serious fear I think but that is what I think is going on.

That said, these buildings are going to be a big issue in the next 20 or so years as from my untrained eye a lot of these buildings look like they are just barely staying together and at some point will become uninhabitable.

#93 Caramia

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 01:37 PM

I read a report about 5 years ago that said that many of these older apartments already have mold problems, and that a large percentage of them will need to be demolished within the next 20 years.

By then, I expect they will be considered heritage.
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#94 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 01:49 PM

I read a report about 5 years ago that said that many of these older apartments already have mold problems, and that a large percentage of them will need to be demolished within the next 20 years.

By then, I expect they will be considered heritage.
:D


Who is going to deem that they be demolished? The only reason they don't get fixed is because they have one owner, rather than a strata building. I don't know that anyone has ever told a strata corporation that their building will be condemned if repairs are not made. But to be sure, no one can sell their unit (for a good price) if repairs are not made, so that is what drives the remediation.

It's the same reason there is generally not "leaky houses" even though in the 90's they were built identical to condos. Heck, they still build them the same way, you don't see SFD with rain-screen wall systems. But you've got ONE owner, and no one looking for trouble by doing exploratory drills into the walls.

#95 Bob Fugger

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 02:04 PM

A lot of Victorians really do speak with forked tongues when it comes to rental housing, don't they? Everybody wants more rental housing, but whenever a serious proposal comes along it seems there's always a mountain of opposition.


Don't most (if not all) of the new condo buildings in town allow rentals? Given the elimination of MURB tax credits, it appears that the only economical method for creating rental housing is through strata ownership.

That said, it's fallicious to suggest that no rental housing was built in the core during the last building boom.

#96 G-Man

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 02:43 PM

^ yes but the discussion here is that this is a purpose built rental building rather than a strata that currently permits rentals (At the whim of owners).

I can't even think of one large rental building built anywhere in the core in the last 15 years.

#97 Caramia

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 04:45 PM

The last one I can recall is the building on 500 block Herald Street with the rusted pipes as decoration that Chris LeFevre renovated for rentals only in 2001(?) He explained back then that the only reason he had been able to do it was because of the Tax holiday for restoring heritage buildings for residential. Keeping it rental allowed him to stay with the building and reap the tax incentive over a 10 year period, to help offset the costs of renovation.

Other than that, I can't think of a single large purpose built rental in the core either.

Regarding demolition of the older apartments, as far as I know the Anti-Demolition bylaw that the APC pushed for before we were disbanded, is still in effect. The bylaw is a ban on demolishing rental housing while the vacancy rate is still in "crises" figures. If I am right then mold or no mold, they stay up until we get more.
Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

#98 LJ

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 06:57 PM

. Heck, they still build them the same way, you don't see SFD with rain-screen wall systems. .


Yeah you do. The building code called for rain screen in SFD for any new construction permits issued after Jan 2007.
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#99 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 07:36 PM

Yeah you do. The building code called for rain screen in SFD for any new construction permits issued after Jan 2007.


Oooh, I did not know that. Than Q.

#100 Baro

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 07:56 PM

Not all municipalities need rain screens, it's part of the fun desiging in this cluster-fu... er wonderful region of tiny local democracies.
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