Higher Rents in BC:  What to do to Survive

April 9, 2022 1:02 am Published by Leave your thoughts

The issues surrounding housing affordability and higher rent in BC is not new.  But, with the increase in property values during the pandemic and less than 1% rental availability rates in Victoria and other parts of BC, unaffordable rents may be reaching a critical level.

Change the Date you pay Rent

From a budgeting point of view, your monthly rent payment is usually the highest single expense in the month.  Therefore, it is the biggest drain on your cash.  One option is to negotiate the date your rent is due. If the renal due date better aligns with your payday or is split into multiple payments over the month, it can make it easier to fit into your cash flow and budget.

This is one of the discussion points with your current landlord, if you’ve fallen behind on your current rent or often struggle to make your rent payments on time at the first of each month. Talk to your landlord to see if they will agree to a repayment plan, giving you a period to catch up.  Tie these payments into your income flow – maybe pay rent ever second week to correspond with your paycheques. If you are paid bi-weekly, there are two months each year where you will receive three paycheques in a month, and you are more able to catch up on any overdue payments in these 3-pay months.

Agree to Sign a New Lease

In BC, if your lease agreement has expired, it will automatically be converted to a month-to month lease.  This continues your rights as a tenant, but you are also free to leave at anytime with 30 days notice to your landlord without financial penalty.  If you landlord is opting to increase the rent, you may offer to sign a new lease instead.  When a lease is renewed, it gives the property owner some comfort that there will be no “turnover costs” if you were to leave.  (i.e.– cleaning, paint, carpet, then marketing the unit to new prospective renters etc). Plus, renewals eliminates any time where there is not a tenant in place.

Offer to pay more rent Up Front

If you can swing it, offer to prepay for several months at once. In BC, the BC tenancy Act does not allow landlords to require that rent be prepaid, but they can accept it if your offer.  Most landlords would be very happy to receive a large amount of rent in one payment. If you can pay a few months upfront, the owner might even be willing to offer some sort of prepayment discount.

Sign a Longer Lease

If you firmly believe that you are going to be in a space for a longer period of time, you can agree to sign to a longer lease.  The landlord may be happy to have a secure tenant in place over a longer period. (To reduce the “turn over costs” mentioned above) If the lease in question is for 12 months, ask if they’d be willing to drop the monthly rate in return for signing an 18-month or 2-year lease. Not having to find new renters every 12 months is a good reason to give someone a lower monthly rent price.

Get Credit for No Pets

If you live in a place that allows pets, and you don’t have any, use this fact as a reason to reduce your rent or not have it increased.

Cleaning a unit after a pet-owning resident moves out can increase the turnover costs.  So, if you don’t have a pet, you can use it as a bargaining chip.

Give up or rent out your assigned parking spot

Often rental locations come with assigned parking.  If you are not a car owner, consider creative options to either rent out the space (possibly to a neighbour who has an extra car) or offer it to the landlord to use for their own purposes. If you can offer the extra spot to another renter, you can collect the rent for the space or negotiate a reduction in your rent in return.

Share your Space

If you have the room, consider a roommate or renting the spare bedroom to a student.  With the end of pandemic, more and more foreign students will be travelling and studying abroad.

Try to be a flexible as possible.  Talk to friends and family about their rental locations.  In some cases, you’ll find a lower rent if you’re willing to take on a non-traditional lease term that benefits the property managers and landlords.  If you can negotiate a good rental rate, instead of a long-term lease, in some cases it could also mean shorter leases in the 8-11 month range.

Social Media

If you are looking for a new rental location, have a written reference available from your current landlord or other previous landlords.  Personal reference can go a long way if you are applying directly to a landlord in smaller rental units.

Homeowners with built in suites are sometimes hesitant to advertise their space due to the recent phenomena of overwhelming response to posted ads. So let your friends and family know and talk about your needs on social media.  You may attract the attention of your next landlord.

Moving may be an Option.

Despite your best efforts, sometimes you only solution is that you may have to move. Preparing for this outcome is another solid reason for budgeting for your affordable rental rate well in advance. Having more time to find a new place and arrange for a move will increase your chances of success.

As we have seen over the last couple of years, more people are working from home.  If you can relocate for work, consider looking in other areas or even a new city or town. It is still true in Canada that the nicest and most desirable locations to live, are the most expensive.  If you can more to a less desirable area or province, the cost of housing can be significantly less.  But do your research first.  Make sure there is employment available in the area you choose, or if you are working from home, make sure the internet service available is appropriate for your needs.

Before deciding to move, you should also understand that rent increases for existing leases are typically lower than for new tenants. With limited increases in rent available to landlords due to rent controls, there is a benefit to living in one location over time.  Staying put can help mitigate the costs of future increasing rents.

If you know that moving is the only option for you, the longer you can preplan, the more options you will have.  It can take time to find the place that will work for you both financially and emotionally.


See also:

Putting Yourself in Debt by Saving for a Down Payment in Victoria

Free Yourself from Financial Debts.

Putting Yourself in Debt by Saving for a Down Payment in Victoria

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