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Renters and landlords have resources to navigate tough Vancouver rental market

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By Alyse Kotyk, Bonnie Lee La Madeleine, Caitlin O’Flanagan, Emelie Peacock, Chelsea Powrie, and Jessica Purver

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Potential renters and landlords can find online resources to help protect themselves from bad renting experiences. Submitted photo.

Among rental horror stories from landlords and tenants, there are resources for both parties to help them prepare for the rental market.

Resources for tenants ready and available

Before looking for an apartment, new and moving tenants may want to review the laws that protect them. A good place to start is the Residential Tenancy Act. This provincial document outlines the rights of tenants and landlords. However, it is not the easiest document to digest. Other organizations are available to answer questions and provide guidance.

First, there is a website maintained by the province that outlines concerns and tips at every stage of the rent agreement life-cycle.

Second, TRAC, or the Tenants Resource & Advocacy Centre, is a non-profit that provides an ombudsman service for renters, legal advice, and outlines steps to take for a myriad of possible situations tenants may face from signing a lease to leaving the apartment.

Finally, there is Renters’ Advisory Committee, which is attached to city hall. This committee advises the city on issues and concerns facing renters in the city.

Tenants not only ones needing protecting

The tension between tenants and landlords is hardly one-sided. Landlords need to insure against income loss and excessive damage from tenants without impinging on the rights that protect a tenant.
The B.C. Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) is the government branch responsible for resolving disputes between landlords and tenants. Landlords can read about how disputes have been resolved and find resources and regulations to guide their own actions.

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, a national authority on housing, provides a step-by-step about the entire rental process and steps landlords may encounter.
 Landlord BC advocates for property managers and individual property owners. They offer a certification course that walks current and prospective landlords through rent regulations, provide insights on local bylaws and provincial legislation on property management.
The Condominium Homeowners Association also holds seminars and forums about strata management.

PAMA, the Professional Association of Managing Agents, provides property managers with training, events and connections with other professionals in this industry.
While landlords have a right to enter tenant residences for maintenance, tenants also have a right to privacy under the BC Personal Information Protection Act (“PIPA”). The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for B.C. provides a helpful guide for landlords performing their duties under the Residential Tenancy Act with tenant privacy in mind.

Moving companies not too concerned

In connection to a rental housing investigation, The Voice surveyed moving companies operating in Metro Vancouver to gauge whether the low vacancy rate in the city had affected moving trends.

None of the moving companies surveyed noticed a change in the volume of renters moving homes. While the companies understood the rental market was tight, the companies were still moving many renters.

“We do a lot of Vancouver, so people are still getting rentals,” Peter Kohl, owner of Angel’s Moving, said. “Like I know [the rental market] is really low but there is still availability right. People are moving all the time.”

Moving companies did however see a downturn in their business corresponding directly to the foreign homebuyer’s tax.

Renters and homeowners are moving further out of the city, according to all moving companies surveyed. Clients are moving from Vancouver to surrounding cities, some as far as Aggasiz, the Sunshine Coast and Whistler.

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