Victoria renters have few options. (Pexels photo)

Victoria renters have few options. (Pexels photo)

Opinion: ‘Outrageous’ Victoria landlords ‘jack up’ rents by nearly 20%. When will it stop?

The latest numbers show Victoria is one of the worst rental cities in Canada

A couple of different residential rental sites send out the latest data each month and while the numbers don’t always match, they are generally horrifying.

According to a report by Rentals.ca, Victoria’s

“average rents increased 19.9 per cent (year over year) for purpose-built and condominium apartments in December.”

Victoria came in ninth on the list for average monthly rent in December for a one-bedroom home at $2,001, and fifth for average monthly rent for a two-bedroom at $2,799.

A second report by Zumper said Victoria ranked as the fourth most expensive rental market in Canada last month, with the prices of one and two bedrooms settling at medians of $2,100 and $2,540, respectively.

“Notably, the price of one bedrooms in Victoria is up 14.1 per cent since this time last year,” said the report.

So whether it’s 14 per cent or 20 per cent, the numbers are all bad.

I can attest because when I moved to Victoria from Metro Vancouver in early December, I was unlucky enough to have to find a place to rent after subletting my apartment on the mainland.

So I’m in the weird position of being both a renter and a landlord.

What I can say is that the Victoria rental market is appalling not just because of the prices but because of the quality of places available for outrageous amounts.

I visited probably a dozen places for rent and they were all old, decrepit and ridiculously priced. Half of them smelled of mold and when asked about it, the landlords all just shrugged and said take it or leave it.

The whole experience was alarming. I know Metro Vancouver rents are high, but you definitely get a much-better selection to choose from.

Doreen Marion Gee agrees.

The Greater Victoria resident wrote an impassioned letter to the Victoria News about some of the issues. One is that while B.C. does restrict how much a landlord can raise the rent for an existing tenant, it’s led many landlords to push out tenants through any means possible so they can “jack up” the rents to “outrageous” levels.

“We desperately need rent controls in B.C. not only to increase the supply of affordable rentals, but also to protect tenants who have been living in the same suite for years at lower rent levels,” Gee writes. “Due to a lack of rent controls, housing for long-term tenants has become precarious, unstable, and unpredictable. I know because I am one of those renters affected.

“Being able to raise the rent as high as they want for new tenants is one hell of an incentive for landlords to force long-term tenants out by any means possible. Unfortunately, our landlord-friendly Residential Tenancy Act contains many ways, numerous loopholes, and very effective tools that unscrupulous landlords can easily utilize to torment good tenants – making their lives such a living hell that they are forced to leave just to keep their sanity.”

I don’t know if rent controls are the answer. This could lead to landlords doing even less maintenance and repairs to rental units than they are doing now because the financial incentive just isn’t there. But we definitely need some radical changes because too many people are having to spend way too much of their income just to put a roof over their heads.

Chris Campbell is an editor with Black Press Media at the Victoria news hub. Follow him on Twitter @shinebox44.

READ MORE: Couple ‘evicted’ from Victoria ferry terminal after being four minutes late

Do you have a story tip? Email: chris.campbell@blackpress.ca.

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