Rent increase could hurt Kelowna's rental market

Landlords across BC will be able to bump up their rent by a maximum of 4.5 percent in 2019.

This comes from an inflation rate of 2.5 percent, plus an additional 2 percent, making this the biggest annual rent increase in BC since 2004.

Tish Lakes from the Okanagan Advocacy and Resources Society says this increase could significantly affect Kelowna's rental market, which currently sits at a 0.2 percent vacancy rate.

“We have more housing coming onboard, but it’s not coming fast enough because we don’t have an overall housing plan,” says Lakes. “If we’re looking at inflation increasing, then the formula may have to be reviewed.”

Lakes says the rent increase runs the risk of seeing more tenants ending their tenancies due to costs alone, which could lead to a worst case scenario of having more people ending up homeless.

However, despite next year’s maximum rent increase being set, Lakes says it doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone will see their rent go up by 4.5 percent.

“There are landlords who appreciate having a good tenant, and will slow down or only increase the rent when they have real housing pressures,” says Lake. “Part of the difficulty is that sometimes you have large corporations that are outside the province who automatically apply these rent increases.”

There are currently just over 5,200 primary rental units in Kelowna, plus an additional 10,000 secondary suites and rented homes. There are also just under 1,500 rental units under construction at this time in the city.