COPE council candidates call on NDP government to freeze rents in Vancouver

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      This October, the Coalition of Progressive Electors is hoping to elect its first members to Vancouver city council in a decade.

      And a central component of the three council candidates' campaign is a freeze on rents in Vancouver, which would have to be introduced by the NDP government.

      That's why Derrick O'Keefe, Anne Roberts, and Jean Swanson plan to attend a Rental Housing Task Force meeting scheduled at 6 p.m. on Wednesday (June 27) at SFU's Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue (580 West Hastings Street).

      “With average rents for newly rented one-bedroom apartments at over $2,000 a month, and with vacancy rates below one percent, Vancouver renters are vulnerable to rent gouging and many have been forced to flee the city,” Swanson said in a COPE news release. “We need the province to end the four percent allowable increase and to stop landlords from raising rents as much as they like when tenants move. If the situation improves in four years, the government can reassess this policy.”

      Roberts added that if landlords know they can't jack up rents after a tenant moves out, this will reduce their incentive to evict people. 

      O"Keefe is a cofounder of the Vancouver Tenants Union and has long argued for tougher regulations for landlords.

      “Stopping rent increases between tenancies will also help the government’s poverty reduction planning because it will mean increases for low-income people from welfare, minimum wage, and childcare subsidies won’t be funnelled straight into landlords’ pockets,” he said.

      Landlord B.C., on the other hand, vehemently opposes a rent freeze, arguing instead for portable housing benefits.

      "The notion that freezing rents will address current rental housing challenges completely ignores the fact that the net result will instead mean less rental supply as secondary market landlords, in particular, get out of the business or leap to home sharing platforms like AirBnB," the landlords' association states on its website. "Owners of existing purpose-built rental buildings will freeze all investment for the maintenance and enhancement of their buildings and, new construction will stop dead; not only because the business case is gone for the developer but, because the banks, pensions funds and CMHC will all say we are not lending you any money to build rental in this environment."