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Landlords in B.C. feel hit as fewer students rent during COVID-19 pandemic

Last Updated Sep 9, 2020 at 11:58 am PDT

FILE - The UBC sign is pictured at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Tuesday, Apr 23, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Summary

Many domestic students are not required to physically sit in a class this fall and winter due to COVID-19

The universities also have fewer international students

Units that are normally in demand are now vacant: LandlordBC

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — For landlords near UBC, SFU and other post-secondary institutions, the math is simple.

Many domestic students are not required to physically sit in a class this fall and winter due to COVID-19 and instead are taking courses online.

As well, the universities have fewer international students because of the pandemic.

David Hutniak, with LandlordBC, said Wednesday that means units that are normally in demand are now vacant.

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“There’s no question we’re seeing some softening in the vacancy rates. They are going up,” Hutniak said. “And that impacts rents. Invariably, they will come down. It’s all supply-and-demand scenario. We’re just going to have to work out way through this.”

LandlordBC is conducting a survey of its members to gain a greater understanding of the extent of the vacancies.

For major property rental firms, there might be a bit more flexibility in navigating these challenging times, Hutniak said.

But, he added, small scale landlords who rent out part of their homes and rely on that income are in a difficult position.

“If you are a secondary market landlord around UBC who traditionally has provided housing to students in your basement suite or what have you, absolutely, it’s going to be hard to transition to non-student tenants,” Hutniak said.

Hutniak said a drop in immigration generally is also hitting landlords hard, given most new arrivals don’t buy homes at first.