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
- Prioritize development applications for affordable and/or rental residential units secured through legal agreements.
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 to support a minimum standard of rental housing in Victoria.
- 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 Policy to 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.
Rental Property Standards of Maintenance Bylaw
As part of the City’s efforts to improve rental housing and support for renters, a new bylaw has been approved to support a minimum standard of rental housing in Victoria and is in effect as of January 31, 2021.The new bylaw includes standards to ensure quality, safe, and livability of rental units. It addresses standards related to water leaks or damage, provision of heat, fire safety, functionality of doors and windows, pests, and mould.
The bylaw complements and aligns with existing resources provided by the province under the Residential Tenancy Act and provide clear expectations to landlords and provide the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) with a framework to measure compliance in Victoria. The RTB is still responsible for investigating complaints and enforcing standards.
The Rental Property Standard of Maintenance bylaw applies to all rental properties where the Residential Tenancy Act applies in the City of Victoria. This includes rental apartments, rented condo units, secondary suites, garden suites, and unauthorized suites.
The bylaw and staff report are available here:
If you have questions about this bylaw, including how it may apply to you as a tenant or as a landlord, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 250.361.0382.
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
- Rental Tenure Zoning: Will it make housing more affordable or less? - Naomi Wittes Reichstein [PDF - 7 MB]
- 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