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BC Landlords Group Wants Members to ‘Rent It Right’

New registry tests landlords on knowledge of tenants’ rights and their own obligations.

By Christopher Cheung 18 Jan 2017 | TheTyee.ca

Christopher Cheung reports on affordable housing for the Housing Fix. 2016-17 funders of the Housing Fix are Vancity Credit Union, Catherine Donnelly Foundation and the Real Estate Foundation of B.C., in collaboration with Columbia Institute. Funders of special solutions reporting projects neither influence nor endorse the particular content of our reporting. Other publications wishing to publish this article or other Housing Fix articles, please contact editor Chris Wood here.

You can look up restaurants and businesses online. Starting today, renters in British Columbia can look up a prospective landlord too.

LandlordBC, the province’s largest association for landlords, has just launched a registry for property owners renting out any number of units. To look up a landlord, all you need to do is type their name in at landlordregistry.ca.

It’s an attempt to professionalize and educate some of those in the industry “who want to do nothing more than collect rent,” said David Hutniak, LandlordBC’s CEO.

Landlords wishing to be certified for the registry are required to complete an online program called “I Rent It Right,” to prove their knowledge of residential tenancy laws and practices. The program takes about two hours, and upon completion, landlords can still consult it as a resource. The completion certificate costs $39 and lasts three years.

LandlordBC is particularly hoping the registry will encourage landlords in the secondary rental market — often mom-and-pops renting out a basement suite — to get educated.

Hutniak says many don’t treat their rental property like a business. “[The secondary rental market] is where the biggest knowledge gap is. A guy with a handful of suites, or renting out a condo.”

LandlordBC hopes the incentive of using its certification as a marketing tool will encourage landlords to get on the registry, along with pressure from renters themselves.

Tenant advocate pleased

Andrew Sakamoto, the executive director of the non-profit B.C. Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre, is pleased that LandlordBC is taking the step even when landlords can afford to be choosier.

Rental accommodation is harder to find in British Columbia than anywhere else in Canada, with a rental vacancy rate of just 1.3 per cent, according to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) latest report in fall, 2016.

Rental-Vacancy-Province-Fall2016-Mobile.jpg

In Metro Vancouver, the rental vacancy rate was 0.7 per cent, even lower than 2015’s dismal 0.8 per cent. Rates in Kelowna, Victoria, and Abbotsford-Mission are even lower.

“With so much competition among tenants right now, landlords aren’t having too hard a time attracting and retaining them, so I think LandlordBC deserves some credit,” said Sakamoto.

Sakamoto’s Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre recognizes that some tenants could also benefit from extra education on the landlord-tenant relationship. The non-profit has created its own online course (unlike LandlordBC’s, this one is free) to help beef up tenants’ knowledge on everything from damage deposits, to what they can reasonably afford, to first impressions at a meeting.

The heads of both organizations hope their initiatives will help clear up some of the complicated areas of tenancy, and encourage property owners who are debating whether or not to rent out their space, to do so.

“There’s a fear, for people who’ve never done it [been a landlord] before,” said Hutniak. “Even if you’re renting out a basement suite, you need to know what you’re doing. But if you do it right, it’s a rewarding business, and more importantly, you’re helping house people.”  [Tyee]

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