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Metro Vancouver eviction capital of Canada, says new report

Last Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 6:39 pm PDT


New research shows Metro Vancouver has led Canada in evictions, surpassing totals in Toronto and Montreal

There's been a housing crisis in Vancouver for several years

Concerns over evictions have increased as COVID-19 restrictions have eased in B.C.

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It’s not the kind of title anyone would want to have associated with their region, but Metro Vancouver has been named number one when it comes to evictions, according to new research out of UBC.

This is the first-ever national study on evictions, putting hard numbers on something many have suspected for years. The figures also show Metro Vancouver appears to be blowing Toronto and Montreal out of the water on this.

The study finds the eviction rate was 10.5 per cent over a five-year period ending in 2018 for Metro Vancouver, as opposed to a range of six to eight percent for those two cities.

Canada evictions report UBC

As for why this is the case, that is something that might require a bit more analysis.

“Unfortunately, the data does not tell us why the rate is higher (in Vancouver) than elsewhere,” Craig Jones, who supervised the report, told the Vancouver Sun.

The report also admits another open question that remains is where exactly evictions are more likely to take place.

“Evidence on the distribution of evictions in Canada is lacking at the national and even provincial level but there has been research on which neighbourhoods are most affected by evictions at the city-level,” wrote author Silas Xuereb, who added they “appear to be more heavily concentrated in suburban cities such as Surrey, Port Coquitlam and Maple Ridge than in Vancouver and the closely surrounding cities.”

Jones notes the study is based on a “large survey of people reporting on their experiences of evictions,” adding some of these instances may not “legally” be called evictions.

“Renters are classified as having been evicted if the survey respondent in their household reported that their most recent move was forced and was from a rental property,” Xuereb said.

More than 65,300 Canadians took part in the 2018 Canadian Housing Survey.

“After controlling for other household characteristics, living in British Columbia was associated with 1.7 times higher odds of being evicted within the previous five years compared to Ontario,” said Xuereb in the analysis. “… British Columbia had the highest growth in real rents during this period, although there is otherwise no strong relation between growth in real rents and evictions.”

Metro Vancouver’s eviction problem could get worse: expert

Robert Patterson is with the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre and says there are a few pressures, including the lift on the rent freeze which could make things worse.

“The lower rent increase limit has led to this sort of perverse incentive to landlords who are unscrupulous, who are just sort of seeking profit, that if they can evict tenants, they can make more money by keeping those numbers lower. They do apply more pressure and that those landlords who have fewer scruples will be engaging in that sort of behaviour.”

Patterson adds there’s also been a pivot from renovictions to evictions that claim a family member of a tenant is moving in.

Patterson suggests a solution. He says instead of issuing an eviction notice that can be tough for the tenant to fight, “apply with the Residential Tenancy Branch, and provide the evidence at the time, saying, ‘here’s who is moving in, and here is the evidence that shows they are going to move in.”

Landlord BC’s David Hutniak says he will be reviewing the report, but says “seeing a headline where Vancouver is number 1 for evictions is unsettling.” He adds that members are committed to providing safe rentals for people in this province.

Current market

Earlier this year, it was reported that rents across Canada had dropped 8.7 per cent over the course of 12 months. However, the most expensive province to rent a home was listed as B.C., with Vancouver receiving the title of most expensive place.

And it appears to be a trend, even in the midst of a pandemic. In June, Vancouver was once again ranked the most expensive city to live in across Canada by Mercer. It was followed by Toronto and Montreal.

“Cost of living has always been a factor for international mobility planning, but the pandemic has added a whole new layer of complexity, as well as long-term implications related to health and safety of employees, remote working and flexibility policies, among other considerations,” said Ilya Bonic, career president and head of Mercer Strategy.

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Though B.C. had banned evictions for several months through the pandemic, the moratorium was lifted in September 2020.

Concerns over evictions have only increased as COVID-19 restrictions eased. On Sept. 8, the province announced it would be lifting its rent freeze in 2022, putting even more stress on those who are already struggling to make ends meet.