Vancouver’s Attempt to Regulate Empty Private Rentals Fails

Salim Ali
Published 2 weeks ago on 7 February, 2024
Vancouver loses appeal on vacancy control for private SROs

In a significant legal setback, Vancouver loses appeal on vacancy control for private SROs (single-room occupancy hotels). The city’s highest court has ruled that Vancouver’s attempt to limit rent increases between tenancies was unreasonable, siding with private SRO landlords who challenged the bylaw.

Key takeaways

  • B.C.’s highest court rules against Vancouver’s rent control bylaw.
  • The bylaw aimed to regulate rent increases between tenancies in SROs.
  • Appeal Court upheld the B.C. Supreme Court’s decision from August 2022.
  • The city’s interpretation of the Vancouver Charter was deemed “unreasonable.”
  • Potential for a further appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada remains.
The B.C. Court of Appeal has upheld a lower court’s ruling, determining that Vancouver’s bylaw to control rent increases in private SROs between tenancies was outside the city’s legal authority.

Appeal Court Upholds Decision Against City Bylaw

The B.C. Court of Appeal’s decision confirmed the previous ruling that Vancouver’s bylaw, which sought to regulate rent increases between tenancies at private SROs, was not within the city’s jurisdiction. The bylaw was seen as an overreach into areas already covered by provincial legislation, specifically the Residential Tenancy Act, which does not limit rent increases between tenancies.

Implications for Vancouver’s Housing Strategy

The ruling is a blow to Vancouver’s efforts to protect low-income residents and address the city’s affordable housing crisis. Despite the city’s intentions, the court found that the bylaw duplicated provincial rent control measures, stepping beyond the city’s legislative authority as outlined in the Vancouver Charter.

Issue Court’s Decision
City’s Bylaw on Rent Control Unreasonable and Invalid
Legal Authority Overstepped Vancouver Charter
Impact on Rent Increases No Limit Between Tenancies
Potential Next Steps Possible Appeal to Supreme Court of Canada

Vancouver loses appeal on vacancy control for private SROs, marking a significant setback in the city’s efforts to manage rent increases and protect low-income housing. The Court of Appeal’s unanimous decision highlights the challenges municipalities face in enacting regulations that overlap with provincial laws. The city now contemplates its next steps, which may include an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

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