Family rentals in demand

Larger, family-friendly rental accommodations are in short supply in Kelowna.

According to a report outlining the city's rental housing inventory, three bedroom or larger apartment units make up just three per cent of the available market rentals.

That works out to approximately 200 of the 6,667 purpose-built rental units available market rentals. More than 200 of the 1,423 subsidized rentals, or about 16 per cent are also three bedroom or larger.

The report, which council will review Monday, is part of the city's Healthy Housing Strategy, which is trying to address the most pressing housing issues, including rental housing.

"Between 2011 and 2016, 73 per cent of new households in Kelowna were renter households. This compares to 32 per cent in the previous five years," the report states.

"This robust demand for rental is clear, with very low vacancy rates, 0.6 in 2016, to a slight increase to 1.9 in 2018."

The rental inventory indicates there are nearly 8,100 purpose-built rentals, including market and subsidized rentals within 165 buildings across the city.

These do not include secondary suites or carriage houses.

More than three-quarters of all rentals are within the city's core area.

While more than half of the rental buildings are more than 40 years old, the report suggests most property owners do see the need to maintain their buildings, however, energy efficient and accessibility upgrades do not appear to be top priorities.

"Traditionally, the most affordable rental stock is the stock that exists today. The theory here is that new stock, subject to new construction and land prices, will be more expensive to rent than older, existing stock.

"Protecting this stock from redevelopment becomes even more important if we are going to ensure that adequate rental housing is available at a wide range of price points."

Staff say they will work with senior levels of government, and explore other opportunities to both protect the current rental stock and encourage new construction.

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