The fact that British Columbia has both the highest housing prices and the highest average rents in Canada could be one of the many reasons why B.C. leads the country in evictions again, according to a new report.
Silas Xuereb, an independent researcher, and Craig Jones, associate director of UBC Housing Research Collaborative, say these conditions give landlords “increased incentives to evict tenants so that they can raise rents or sell properties for a profit.”
Jones later added in a follow up interview that B.C. has a significantly higher eviction rate than any other province except PEI (with the difference not being statistically significant), because B.C. has a higher no-fault eviction rate.
About 10.5 per cent of renting households in British Columbia told the 2021 Canadian Housing Survey that their landlords forced them to move between April 2016 to early 2021, compared to 5.9 per cent nationally.
The vast majority of those of evictions — 85 per cent — qualify as no-fault evictions. They happen when landlords claim properties for their own use, sell them, demolish them, convert them or repair them. Nationally, just under 65 per cent of evictions qualify as no-fault evictions.
Jones said he does not know what causes the high frequency of no-fault evictions in B.C., but acknowledged that market conditions incentivize landlords.
According to Xuereb and Jones, average housing prices are nearly $300,000 higher than the national average and monthly rents are $500 above the national average, providing increased incentives for landlords to evict tenants to raise rents or sell the property.
“That’s one potential reason, one potential reason among many potential reasons,” Jones said.
Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area has Canada’s highest eviction rate at 10.4 per cent and similar eviction rates in Vancouver and B.C. as a whole “indicate that high eviction rates are a problem throughout British Columbia, not only in Vancouver.”
The most common reason reported for no-fault evictions nationally was the sale of properties with one-third of all evictions, followed by landlords wanting the property for personal use or their immediate family’s use at 25 per cent.
Almost 80 per cent of tenant households have either private individuals or companies as landlords, with co-ops, non-profit organizations, governments, relatives and employers owning the rest.
While it is not clear under which ownership arrangements most no-fault evictions happen, the authors point out that “private landlords are more likely than non-profit and co-operative landlords to be profit-motivated and sell properties that have inflated in value.”
On the other hand, the report concludes that “rates of eviction are lower in social and affordable housing, non- profit, and co-op housing, showing that non-market housing can be effective at protecting tenants from evictions.”
Specifically, it finds that just over four per cent of tenants in social housing faced eviction in the past five years compared with six per cent of tenants in private housing.
Does this mean that government should encourage more non-profit housing? Jones said the research itself does not speak to that point, but he describes himself as a “big proponent” of non-market housing and purpose-built rental housing.
Xuereb and Jones also find that the odds of eviction are 1.7 times higher for Indigenous renters.
“High eviction rates for Indigenous renters may be caused by a wide range of factors but there is no doubt that discrimination against Indigenous people exists in the rental market in Canada,” they write.
Premier David Eby framed the findings as evidence of pressure on the provincial housing stock with demand exceeding supply.
“A lot of this pressure falls on tennants,” Eby said Monday. “In some cases, landlords are willing to bend or break the rules in order to remove a tenant in order to be able to avoid rent controls and raise the rent. We put in place a 12-month-rent penalty for a landlord that engages in that behaviour, that they have to pay to the tenant.
“We are constantly monitoring and if we need to take additional steps to ensure tenants are protected, we will do so.”