Vacancy Control Means Security & Stability for Renters


What is it?  

Vacancy control is a form of rent control that ties allowable rent increases to a housing unit, rather than to individual tenancy agreements, which is the current model of rent control in B.C.  

Why is it necessary?

The current model of rent control incentivizes landlords to end long term tenancies in order to seek higher rents in tight rental markets. This type of economic displacement hits low and fixed income tenants the hardest, and contributes to the province’s homelessness and mental health crisis. Tying rent control to units would remove the economic incentive to end tenancies and likely decrease the number of "renovictions" and other types of bad-faith evictions.  

The current model of rent control also undermines the province’s efforts to increase the stock of affordable, public, and non-profit housing. British Columbia lost 15 affordable private units (renting for $750 or less) for every new affordable unit built between 2011-2016. Vacancy control would immediately and universally moderate the rate of rent increases across the province, which will help to ensure security of tenure for tens of thousands of renters who are waiting for affordable public housing to be built. 


Tell Your MLA: BC Needs Vacancy Control Now!


Common Myths About Vacancy Control

Mainstream discussion has entrenched a viewpoint that argues rent regulation, and especially vacancy control, is harmful. Some common myths include:

1. The overall (lack of) supply of housing is the primary driver of the housing affordability crisis and rent control deters investment in new supply;
2. Increases in supply lead to a positive filtering effect, whereby those who can afford new units will vacate their existing units for the benefit of down-market tenants;
3. Rent control deters rental housing maintenance and repairs;
4. “Mom and pop” landlords control a major share of the rental housing stock and are especially harmed by rent controls; and
5. Rent control is costly to implement

A closer analysis of academic and policy literature suggests otherwise: there is in fact no consensus that rent control is bad policy, and there are significant limitations in the econometric methods used by opponents of rent control.

In 2023 the AffordableBC campaign produced a report that argues that vacancy control is an effective and necessary policy tool for addressing the extreme housing affordability crisis facing B.C. renters. The report examines past and present vacancy control policies in B.C., Ontario, Manitoba and P.E.I. from the 1970s onward and finds no evidence that tying rent to the unit had significant negative impacts on new rental housing supply. Instead, development industry behaviour has been shaped primarily by wider economic factors, such as investment cycles, inflation, global recessions, and federal housing and taxation policy.

Click here to read the full report