Vancouver Elects: Promises to protect tenants and stabilize rents

By Rohana Rezel

Voters will cast their ballots on Oct 15 at the municipal election in Vancouver, where renters make up the majority of households. We looked at each party’s housing platform to see what they plan to do to protect tenants and stabilize rents.

Vote Socialist 1is the clear winner in this category. Some of the highlights in the party’s platform are:

  1. Tenant’s right to return at the same or lower rent
  2. The right of first refusal
  3. Vacancy control tied to units
  4. The right for tenants to organize 
  5. No displacements or evictions to facilitate landlord or developer profits
  6. Prioritize public housing to absorb all tenants that would be displaced by the Broadway Plan and anyone currently without accessible and stable housing
  7. Stop the issuing of permits for demolition or construction on the Broadway Plan until all affected tenants have relocation plans in place or are relocated
  8. End evictions of any residents living in units that cost less than 80% of market rates, unless immediately provided with housing of the same or better rental price, quality, and square footage in perpetuity, indexed to inflation
  9. End the issuance of construction or demolition permits for any gentrification project until all of the impacted tenants are safely relocated and Indigenous nations have provided free, prior, and informed consent
  10. Replace the City’s “ineffectual, performative, and developer-friendly” Rental Advisory Committee with an independently elected Rent Control Agency, with tenant union representation and rental housing ombudspersons

The next most comprehensive renter protection and rent stabilization plan comes from Progress Vancouver2. The party, whose mayoral candidate is Mark Marissen, promises to:

  1. Require tenants to be offered the right of first refusal to return to the new or renovated building at the lesser of the rent they were paying or 20% below market rents. 
  2. Require that tenants be compensated for expenses related to finding new housing when their unit is under renovation or when their building is being redeveloped.
  3. Prioritize developments which avoid renter displacement 
  4. Support pet owners with pet-friendly rental policies in VCHC units

In third place in the protect tenants and stabilize rents category is OneCity3, who promise to:

  1. Turn the Renters’ Office – which, right now, mostly provides information – into a Tenant Advocacy Office, with a mandate to advocate for renters facing renovictions, demovictions or evictions without proper cause
  2. Prioritizing development applications that do not displace renters, ending all incentives to displace renters, and providing a rental top-up to ensure that tenants maintain a roof over their head
  3. The right for tenants to organize

Next best set of platform promises for tenant protection and rent stabilization comes from Forward Together with Kennedy Stewart4, who promise “strongest renter protections in Canada,” but it’s not clear what they are.

Vision Vancouver5 renter protection promises are weak.  This is what their policy page says: 

“It’s time to realize the potential of the partially implemented Renters Protection Office to offer protections and advocacy for renters, and appoint a Renters’ Advocate. Renters need someone at City Hall whose primary focus is on advocating for tenants’ needs – particularly in a time of increased renovictions and extreme shortages of rental housing. The advocate would champion renter’s rights and make recommendations on more effective enforcement of short-term rental violations.”

What about the rest?

COPE has promised to send their housing platform shortly, and we’ll update this piece when we get it. We have not been able to find housing platforms, or pledges pertaining to tenant protection and rent stabilization, for ABC, Greens, NPA or TEAM.

You can reach Rohana Rezel at [email protected]. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook and Github.


One thought on “Vancouver Elects: Promises to protect tenants and stabilize rents”

  1. In particular I appreciate Vote Socialist’s item #8 —

    End evictions of any residents living in units that cost less than 80% of market rates, unless immediately provided with housing of the same or better rental price, quality, and square footage in perpetuity, indexed to inflation.

    City planning departments will not want to hear it, but tenants have noticed that all the old 750-700-650 square-foot one-bedroom apartments are being replaced by 450 square-foot one-bedroom thimbles. The City of Nanaimo pledges in its affordable housing plan to go right on approving thimbles, even though they recognize that tenants’ quality of life is affected by tiny living and that the city must pick up the slack, building public amenities such as parks, galleries and libraries for people who must leave home in order to live their lives.

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