Developers' group warns that provincial measures could lead to delay or cancellation of 12,361 new rental units

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      Some tenants' advocates, including Vancouver COPE councillor Jean Swanson, are vociferous advocates for "vacancy control".

      This involves the province regulating rents on suites even after the renter moves out, rather than just capping rent hikes for current occupants.

      But an organization representing developers has declared that if rents are regulated on units between tenancies and other "restrictive new policies" are introduced, this will curtail the number of new rental dwellings that will come onto the market.

      The Urban Development Institute has released a survey of 30 builders. They collectively claimed that 12,361 of the 19,972 units currently planned will either be delayed or cancelled.

      In September, B.C.'s Rental Housing Task Force called on the provincial government to reduce the maximum allowable rent increase in 2019 from 4.5 percent to 2.5 percent.

      There was a caveat allowing landlords to apply for greater rent hikes if they could demonstrate that the 2.5 percent increase didn't cover maintenance and other costs.

      But it's vacancy control, which hasn't been brought forward yet, that has drawn the greatest ire from the development industry.

      UDI president and CEO Anne McMullin said in a news release that according to her members, it would be the "death knell for rental home construction".

      “This would be the single, most significant impediment to the construction of rental apartments,” McMullin declared. “With record low vacancy rates, British Columbians need new rental homes but this proposal puts those in jeopardy.”

      Her organization released statements by executives of five developers. They all described how their companies would be affected should the province legislate vacancy controls on apartment units.

      The B.C. Rental Housing Task Force submitted "an estimated 30 recommendations", according to the UDI news release. 

      The task force is chaired by Vancouver–West End NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert.

      The UDI surveyed its members in advance of the other recommendations being released.

      It's calling for an approach with more carrots and fewer sticks to address the low vacancy rate.

      “Our government offers other industries tax incentives to attract more investment to B.C.," McMullin said. "We need similar tax rebates on rental homes, plus a streamlined municipal permitting process with red tape reduction to stimulate rental home building and generate savings that can be passed on to renters.”