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B.C. condo association director critical of rental and 19+ designation removal

This apartment complex in Kelowna is currently available for those ages 19 and older.
This apartment complex in Kelowna is currently available for those ages 19 and older.

The B.C. Condo Association’s executive director is doubtful the province’s new housing act will create more affordable housing across B.C.

B.C.’s new Premier David Eby recently unveiled the housing supply act that will remove all 19+ or 35+ condo designations in B.C. as well as make every unit rentable in order to increase the province’s housing supply. It is expected to come into effect mid-2023, according to a press release issued by the province.

But Tony Gioventu, executive director of the Condominium Home Owners Association of B.C., thinks it will push condo ownership further out of reach for residents.

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Roughly 90% of condos that have age restrictions in the province are already 55+, meaning the new legislation will only impact about 10% of condos with bylaws that have roughly 19+ or 35+, he said. There are 34,000 strata corporations in B.C.

“It was very confusing whether these bylaws were enforceable and how they were being applied partially because they have a direct affect on family status under the Human Rights Code,” he said. Family status means it is prohibited to discriminate against families in Canada.

“On the front, eliminating this and cleaning it up to just 55 and over really helps with respects to disputes and helps to clarify cleanly what the expectation for age restriction is,” he said.

However, in the last week, more than 30 stratas have inquired from Vancouver Island and the Interior about changing their age restrictions to 55 and older, he said.

“I think this is going to backfire a little bit in the sense we’re going to see a trend where people are trying to hedge their bets by adopting 55-and-older bylaws to retirement communities,” he said. Anyone who lives in the building at the time of a bylaw change would be exempt from the bylaw.

“The downside of that is… that buildings that start out at 55 are really great with intention but after 25 or 30 years, the average age of people in the building is in their 70s, 80s and 90s. Nobody wants to be on strata council, nobody wants to maintain and repair buildings and a lot of properties under 50 units across the province are self-managed because no management is available and it’s not affordable for them,” he said.

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The best solution is for families and those who are older learn to live together and get along. A compromise Gioventu is seeing is a 55 and older designation as only the principal occupant allowing grandchildren to live with grandparents or for a younger family member to live with their parents.

Overall, he doesn’t see how it will help people find homes because rental units are already not affordable for a family that needs community support.

Gioventu said developers have been approaching buildings that are ideal for redevelopment that used to have rental bylaws and are offering premiums to owners to sell them, knowing they can rent the units until they can get control of the buildings.

“There was a listing in Kelowna that I got on Friday… the property was listed at $699,000, with this passing, now that it can be rented for an investor, it was relisted at $759,000 so what’s happened instantly is the buyers market for these properties have increased substantially with more competition,” he said.

He worries the worst result of the new legislation will be an overall increase in costs for condos.

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