Protecting Tenants and Rental Housing
Approximately 60% of Victoria residents are renters.
Many renters in Victoria live in older, low-density rental housing. With a vacancy rate of less than 1%, existing older rental stock is a vital component of Victoria’s affordable housing supply.
Rising housing costs and low rental housing vacancy rates mean that tenants may have difficulty finding affordable and suitable housing. This difficulty may increase when tenants have to move because their building gets renovated or redeveloped.
Tenant Assistance Policy
As part of the work the City of Victoria is undertaking to address housing affordability, beginning September 1, a new Tenant Assistance Policy [PDF - 547 KB] provides guidelines for tenant assistance when renters are required to move because their building is being redeveloped.
The focus of the Tenant Assistance Policy is on protecting vulnerable tenants such as seniors, young families, and people with accessibility needs, who may have additional challenges finding an appropriate place to live.
The Tenant Assistance Policy applies to rezoning applications where tenants will be 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.
Developers applying for a rezoning that displaces existing renters are asked to include a Tenant Assistance Plan application to the City that includes:
- information about how the landlord plans to communicate with current renters
- what compensation, relocation assistance and moving cost support will be provided
- the offer for current tenants to return to the new or renovated building with rent rates discounted by at least 10% of the new starting rate
A summary of your Tenant Assistance Plan will be included with the staff report to Committee of the Whole (Council) for the rezoning application.
The Tenant Assistance Policy is one of several initiatives the City of Victoria is undertaking as part of a aimed at addressing housing affordability in Victoria and is intended to complement existing regulations under the Provincial Residential Tenancy Act.
Information for Owners and Developers
Property owners will be asked to submit a Tenant Assistance Plan application guided by the policy with any rezoning application involving the displacement of tenants. Your Tenant Assistance Plan application can be submitted at the same time you submit your rezoning application.
Housing staff will review your Tenant Assistance Plan application and provide guidance and feedback to support alignment with the City’s Tenant Assistance Policy and recommendations for supporting any vulnerable tenants. A summary of your Tenant Assistance Plan will be included with the staff report to Committee of the Whole (Council) for the rezoning application.
- Tenant Assistance Policy [PDF - 547 KB]
- Tenant Assistance Plan Guidelines [PDF - 495 KB]
- Tenant Assistance Policy Checklist [PDF - 317 KB]
- Tenant Assistance Plan Application Form [PDF - 332 KB]
- Sample Letter to Tenants [PDF - 502 KB]
If you are successful in your rezoning application, you will be asked to demonstrate your completion of all steps in the Tenant Assistance Plan by submitting a Final Tenant Assistance Report to the City in advance of your Occupancy Permit application.
Information for Tenants
It is important to stay informed about your rights as a tenant. The City of Victoria’s Tenant Assistance Policy is intended to complement existing regulations under the Provincial Residential Tenancy Act.
Under the Residential Tenancy Act, landlords must give four months notice to end tenancy for demolition, renovation or repair, or conversion, and tenants have 30 days to dispute the notice. More information is available from the Residential Tenancy Branch
If your landlord plans to undertake major renovations or redevelop the building, they should have all necessary permits (building, electrical, and plumbing) before they can give you a notice to end tenancy. To check if permits have been issued or are in process for your building, contact the City’s Permits division. For more information, visit the BC Residential Branch website.
You can dispute a four month notice to end tenancy by applying for dispute resolution at the Residential Tenancy Branch within 30 days of receiving the notice.
Before your landlord or their representative applies for redevelopment, they should inform you of their intent to redevelop, the steps involved, and the expected timeline. For rezonings, your landlord may also host a meeting for tenants where you can ask questions.
During the application process for a rezoning, your landlord should provide you with a copy of their Tenant Assistance Plan that the City has approved.
Once all permits are issued, your landlord should provide you with a move-out date with at least four-months notice through a notice to end tenancy.
Relocation assistance guidelines
The City of Victoria’s Tenant Assistance Policy recommends compensation based on the length of tenancy:
Years you've rented the unit
up to five years
Three months' rent
five to nine years
Four months' rent
10 to 19 years
Five months' rent
20 year +
| Six months' rent
Assistance with your moving costs
The City’s Tenant Assistance Policy recommends two options for moving assistance to displaced tenants, at the discretion of the landlord.
- An insured moving company may be hired by the applicant, with all arrangements and costs covered.
- Flat rate compensation, based on unit size, provided to the tenant at a rate of:
- $500 for a bachelor and one bedroom household
- $750 for two or more bedroom household
- $500 for a bachelor and one bedroom household
Assistance with finding alternate accommodation
The City’s Tenant Assistance Policy recommends landlords provide tenants with assistance finding three options for new accommodation, should they request it. The options should be comparable in terms of size, location, and rent amounts with a minimum of one option within the same neighbourhood.
Right of first refusal
The City’s Tenant Assistance Policy recommends that existing tenants be offered the opportunity to return to the building, with rent rates discounted by at least 10% off the new starting rates.
If you're considered a vulnerable renter or have a special circumstance, you could be eligible for additional support and compensation. Contact your landlord as soon as possible, using the contact information provided by your landlord in their communications with you.