Strata groups pan province's plan to lift rental restrictions

'Not the rental answer'

New legislation aimed at putting more affordable housing on the market by lifting strata bylaws is coming under fire.

Bill 44 was introduced by Premier David Eby earlier this week as an answer to the provincial housing crisis and would see condos across the province have self-imposed rental restrictions lifted.

Rules restricting 55-plus and short-term rentals will be left alone if they are already in a strata’s bylaws.

Tony Gioventu, executive director with the Condominium Home Owners Association, says CHOA has just sent a letter to MLAs outlining why the association thinks it's a bad idea.

"CHOA is encouraging the legislature to understand the potential consequences of this decision, as it will affect a significant constituency who, for almost 60 years, have purchased into strata communities with the confidence their property use would have permitted controls over ownership occupancy and limited rentals," he says.

The organization believes the proposed legislation will do nothing to improve rental availability.

CHOA writes: "The greatest loss of rental units identified in the past 10 years is attributed to short-term accommodations." But, stratas that allow short-term rentals like Airbnb and VRBO already don't have rental restrictions and won't free up any housing.

Michelle Johnson, a property manager with Re/Max Commercial, says there is definitely a shortage of rentals on the market. "The market is tight, very tight. You put an ad up, and if it's affordable and it's priced right, you'll get 100 replies."

Gene Sarmaga, strata council president for the Mandalay in Vernon, says "we'll be watching this legislation closely because it has the potential to greatly alter our complex."

Mandalay's current bylaws prohibit any rentals after two years of buying into the strata.

CHOA members also take exception to use of the word 'affordable.'

"Strata properties are not affordable housing. Once strata fees, taxes, insurance and long-term renewals are calculated, landlords are not in a financial position to make strata rental housing available in affordable communities," they state.

The legislation received third reading Thursday and is expected to become law in early 2023.

Eby has also announced he'll be appointing a ministry dedicated to housing when he selects his cabinet in early December.

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