Creating and Retaining Victoria’s Rental Housing
Sixty one percent of Victoria residents rent their home.
It can be very challenging to find a place to rent with a vacancy rate of just 1%. That's why the City is working on a suite of new housing initiatives aimed at providing support for renters and improving access to rental housing.
Victoria Housing Strategy Phase Two: Focus on Renters
One goal of the Victoria Housing Strategy Phase Two: 2019-2022 is to improve affordability, stability, and choice for renters in Victoria. This goal includes actions that seek to maintain and improve existing rental housing units, protect tenants, prevent renovictions, and create new non-market, below-market, and market rental housing options.
Why is purpose-built rental important?
Purpose-built rental housing offers a secure and long-term option for households who cannot or choose not to own their homes.
Renting offers a more flexible and inherently less expensive housing option compared to homeownership. Purpose-built rental housing refers to apartment buildings (i.e. four units or more) designed and built expressly as long-term rental housing. Purpose-built rentals are considered to form the primary rental market housing stock. They offer greater housing security than the secondary market rentals, whose owners may choose to use the unit for their own purposes.
Encouraging new rental housing development:
Council has supported the following policies and regulations to help encourage new purpose-built rental units:
- The City’s Inclusionary Housing and Community Amenity Policy encourages affordable housing in new multi-unit strata developments.
- Parking reductions for rental apartment developments to lower the cost of development. See Schedule C in the Zoning Bylaw
- Prioritized and efficient development application processes aim to fast-track rental projects.
Retaining existing rental housing and protecting tenants:
Council has supported the following policies, regulations, and committees to help retain the existing rental supply and protect tenants across the city:
- OCP Rental Replacement policy to support the retention of existing rental units in buildings of four or more units to encourage redevelopment that replaces older rental with new units, secured through legal agreements.
- OCP Strata Conversion policy to apply to buildings with four units or more, where conversions of rental units to stratified units are generally not supported.
- Rental Property Standard of Maintenance Bylaw
- Short-term rental regulations to increase access to long-term rental housing.
- Residential Rental Tenure Zoning to add a new definition of residential rental tenure to the City’s zoning bylaws.
- Tenant Assistance Policyto apply to rezoning applications where tenants are required to find a new place to live as a result of the redevelopment. It also serves as a best-practice approach for any renovation or redevelopment situations where tenants are required to relocate.
- Renter’s Advisory Committee to provide advice and recommendations to Council on rental housing and tenant-related matters.
- A Renter Engagement Toolkit [PDF - 42 KB] to help increase the participation and voice of renters/tenants in City engagement opportunities.
What is Rental Tenure Zoning?
Residential Rental Tenure Zoning (RRTZ or Rental Zoning) was introduced by the Province of British Columbia in May 2018 and gives municipalities new legislative authority to limit housing tenure to rental in multi-family residential zones. The intent of these changes is to give local governments greater ability to preserve and increase the overall supply of rental housing in their communities. The City of Victoria Council directed staff to undertake several Rental Zoning related actions, including:
- Preparing draft zoning bylaw amendments to apply residential rental tenure zoning to existing purpose-built market rental properties through a phased approach.
- In 2019, a new definition of residential rental tenure was added to the City’s zoning bylaws, which are now included in site-specific zoning when applicants propose purpose-built rental developments. Click here to see the report.
- Participating in a study to consider potential economic impacts of Rental Zoning use, led by the Housing Research Collaborative (UBC) and the Sauder School of Business Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate (UBC).
Rental Tenure Zoning Sources
- Residential Rental Tenure Zoning - Bulletin
- Making Rental a Reality
- Residential Rental Tenure Zoning in the Capital Region
- Reducing the Barrier of High Land Cost: Strategies for Facilitating More Affordable Rental Housing Construction in Metro Vancouver