Metro Vancouver named eviction capital of Canada in new UBC report

·3 min read
Apartments in the West End of Vancouver’s Davie Village are pictured in Vancouver, B.C. on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
Apartments in the West End of Vancouver’s Davie Village are pictured in Vancouver, B.C. on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

A new University of British Columbia study found that renters in Metro Vancouver are evicted at almost twice the rate of renters in the Greater Toronto area.

Using data from Statistics Canada between the years 2013 and 2018, researchers found 10.5 per cent of renters in the Metro Vancouver region said their most recent move was due to an eviction.

In the Greater Toronto area, that number was 5.8 per cent, and in Montreal it's 4.2 per cent. The Canadian average sits at 5.7 per cent.

Craig Jones, one of the study authors and the research coordinator at UBC's Housing Research Collaborative, says the results surprised him.

"I've been a renter in Vancouver for a long time. Anecdotally it can be tough out there to be a renter, but to have a finding [where] ... Metro Vancouver really stands out by a large margin, especially compared to the average for a Canadian metropolitan area [is surprising]," he said.

Rising rents, easier eviction processes

Zuzana Modrovic, a staff lawyer in the Housing Law Clinic at the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre in Vancouver, says the results did not come as a surprise.

"We've thought for quite a long time that evictions were extremely high in Vancouver and in B.C. as well in general," she said.

Modrovic says there are number of reasons B.C. and Metro Vancouver lead the country in evictions.

"It cannot be that B.C. has twice as many bad tenants as the next runner-up province."

For one, she says, rents and property prices have risen at a faster rate here, so there's a greater economic incentive for landlords to end tenancies here compared to anywhere else.

"So the incentive for a landlord to sell their property to a developer or to kick a tenant out to bring in a new tenant who will pay much higher rent is quite high here, much higher than in other places," she said.

Colin Fode/CBC
Colin Fode/CBC

A key gap, she says, is that rent control applies during a tenancy. But as soon as the tenancy ends, the landlord can set a new rent for that unit.

"That gives landlords a perverse incentive to kick out especially long-term tenants whose rents are especially low," she said.

Another reason, she says, is that in B.C., the onus is on the tenant to apply to dispute an eviction notice, rather than on the landlord to apply to get an eviction order.

Modrovic adds that a recent change was made for evictions due to extensive renovations, where landlords are the ones who have to apply for those kind of evictions.

"To us, that signifies that the government recognizes that putting the onus on tenants makes it easier to evict people," she said.

Modrovic says there are policy changes that can be made to improve things for tenants in B.C. This includes putting the onus on landlords to apply for an eviction order and limiting the amount by which a landlord can increase the rent when a tenancy ends.

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