Vancouver City Council approves rent limits for private SRO hotels

Vancouver City Council has approved rent limits for private one-room occupancy (SRO) hotels.

At the November 17 meeting, vacancy control regulations were approved by Mayor Kennedy Stewart and all councilors except Melissa De Genova.

Council had previously asked city staff to deliver a report and recommendations to address the issue of SRO hotel tenant displacement as a result of rent increases between rentals. Many Vancouver SROs are in the Downtown Eastside neighborhood.

That report, plus appendices, can be read in full here.

“Investors buying SRO buildings and significantly increasing rents between rents after completing small renovations are one of the drivers of residential instability for the City’s lowest-income residents,” the city said in a Nov. 18 statement regarding the new regulations.

The regulations and their related regulations will take effect after the approval of their related costs in the 2022 budget.

Acceptable rent increases between rentals will be limited to the following, as reported in the city statement:

  • For rooms that rent more than $ 500, the rent can now increase only at the rate of inflation (~ 2%).
  • For rooms renting for less than $ 500, rent can now be increased only by inflation (~ 2%) plus 5% (~ 7% overall)
  • For rooms that rent for less than $ 375 per month (the current shelter component of income support), rent can be increased to $ 375.

The new rules allow owners of SRO hotels that require a significant upgrade to apply to the city for a “rent relaxation” between leases if they have previously obtained approval from the provincial Residential Tenancy Branch to increase the rents for inhabited rooms.

“Speculation and rising rents in SROs are pushing our neighbors onto the street and Council is acting to combat it,” Stewart said in the statement. “While these new rules will help stabilize rents for our lowest-income neighbors, there is more to do. That is why I continue to work with Federal and Provincial Ministers of Housing [Ahmed] Hussen and [David] Eby on Vancouver’s bold plan to transform this critical residence into safer and more supportive places to call home. “

Councilor Jean Swanson posted the below tweet after a November 17 council vote; included are some replies to her tweet.

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