Landlords, tenants raise concerns over rental market

Tenants and landlords gathered at a Rental Housing Task Force community meeting at Okanagan College Tuesday night to discuss the challenges of BC's rental housing market.

During the meeting, renters called for the following:

  • A more lenient tenant screening process
  • A limit on increases in rent
  • Penalties for landlords who wrongfully evict tenants
  • A more lenient policy on owning pets in a rental property

Landlords also brought up several issues:

  • Rent increases not covering operating costs
  • The need for quicker, more effective eviction policies
  • Tenants not honouring the rules of a rental property     
  • The need for a database containing information on tentants with a poor rental history

Task Force Chair and Vancouver-West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert said both tenants and landlords found common ground at the meeting when it came to both sides needing to honour their agreements.

"If a landlord is not giving you heat, how to you enforce the rule to require them to give you heat in the middle of the winter?" Said Herbert. "If a tenant skips out on their rent, how do you enforce the order to collect the rent that they owe you? A lot of it was 'how do you actually take the law and make it a reality as opposed to just a law that just looks nice on paper, but you can't get it to work for you?'" 

Matt Aitken, a renter in Kelowna, hopes that the Task Force can bring a change to the market.

"I think that the government needs to intervene more in order to keep property prices and landlords in check," says Aitken. "It's a really unfair situation for a lot of people out there looking for affordable housing for families.

After making several more stops across BC, the Task Force will submit a list of recommendations to Premier John Horgan in hopes of making policy changes by next spring.

"I am confident that (the Provincial Government) wants to hear from landlords and renters, and they want to make some solutions, so I'm excited to take part in this process," says Herbert.

Approximately 1.5 million BC residents are renting. Kelowna currently has one of the lowest vacancy rates in the country at 0.2%.