While home sales saw an immediate dip, Greater Victoria’s rental market may not feel the impact of COVID-19 for several months. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

While home sales saw an immediate dip, Greater Victoria’s rental market may not feel the impact of COVID-19 for several months. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

COVID-19: Coming months will reveal fate of Greater Victoria’s rental market

Post-secondary school closures, unemployment could impact landlords, renters

The future of Greater Victoria’s rental market in a COVID-19 world is still uncertain, experts say.

With more than 130,000 jobs lost across the province and a more than a $1-billion hit to the region’s tourism industry, some renters have turned to the province’s rental support program to stay in their homes, while others are on the move.

And despite restart plans for post-secondary institutions, many fall 2020 courses are set to be delivered remotely.

Those are all factors that could shape the rental market in the coming months, according to Kaye Melliship, executive director of the Greater Victoria Housing Society (GVHS).

“I think there’s been a lot of movement in the rental market,” she said. “People have had to leave town, they’ve had to go back to their mom and dads’. There’s been quite a bit of change in the rental market.”

READ ALSO: Greater Victoria’s rental vacancy rate to rise in 2020: CMHC

The GVHS is a non-profit, charitable organization that provides affordable rental housing for low to moderate income families, seniors, working singles and adults with disabilities. Melliship expected to see more people coming to them for help since the pandemic started, but she said there’s only been a slight uptake.

“We haven’t even seen that yet, I think people are still sorting things out,” she said.

In December 2019 the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) predicted rising vacancy rates for Greater Victoria, anticipating a 1.6 per cent vacancy rate by October 2020.

That prediction was fueled by rising rates of new supply, with private projects coming on the market this year. But data from Used.ca, a Victoria-based buy and sell website, shows a dip in rental real estate postings. May 2019 saw 45,961 real estate postings while May 2020 saw 34,781.

And there were 19,233 more postings in April 2019 than in April 2020, when only 25,847 ads were posted.

In March, the province put a moratorium on evictions and rent increases, prompting LandlordBC to share its concerns on new evictions and evictions already underway. At that time, CEO David Hutniak said the policy could have “unintended repercussions for individual landlords and the industry as a whole.”

Hunter Boucher, director of operations for LandlordBC, says landlords, property managers and renters are all facing uncertainty.

“The biggest concern everyone has is simply not knowing what may happen next. There is no road map for what we’re going through,” he said. “We know for sure that there is going to be an impact, especially in communities such as Victoria.”

Boucher said the secondary market might feel the pinch – those who rent out garden suites, carriage homes or single-family houses for students. With a significant student population in Greater Victoria, those impacts will be felt across the board.

Still, that effect might not be fully realized until September, when students typically return for classes.

“While it sometimes feels like [COVID-19] has been going on forever, we aren’t that far into this at this point,” Boucher said. “So, I think it takes quite a bit longer to start seeing those trends.”

READ ALSO: Landlords respond to Horgan’s announcement about rental contributions, eviction freezes

CoronavirusSaanichUniversity of VictoriaUVic

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

From right: Brad Cameron, BCEHS superintendent of patient care delivery for Greater Victoria, with primary care paramedics Em Funk, Tyrone Trotter, Fiona Galvin and Peter Hill at the Leigh Road station. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore paramedics didn’t waver when faced with COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. Emergency Health Services personnel are this year’s Courage and Bravery Award recipients

February is Black History Month. (Photo: Government of Canada)
Camosun College highlighting Black content with research guide during Black History Month

The collection includes a range of works by Black authors and creators

Amy Morrison was surprised to find a note on her windshield for parking on a public street with no restrictions in south Oak Bay where she works. (Amy Morrison Photo)
Oak Bay resident uses notes to claim street parking

‘You must have noticed, we park in front of OUR HOUSE,’ note writer says

Debra Sheets, a University of Victoria nursing professor, is starting Victoria’s first Memory Cafe program for adults with dementia and their caregivers. (Photo: Debra Sheets)
Memory Cafe Victoria hopes to connect local dementia community

Adults with dementia and their caregivers will participate in weekly Zoom socializing and activities

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives to view the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Death threats mount against Dr. Bonnie Henry, sparking condemnation from Horgan, Dix

Henry has become a staple on televisions in homes across British Columbia since January 2020

Shoppers will be able to get their hands on signed bottles of Ryan Reynolds’ new gin at B.C. liquor stores this summer. (Twitter/Ryan Reynolds)
Ryan Reynold’s Aviation Gin autographed and coming to B.C. stores

This summer 100 bottles will be available to the public for purchase across five B.C. liquor stores

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
‘Stay local’: Dr. Henry shoots down spring break travel for British Columbians

B.C. is reportedly working with other provincial governments to determine March break policies

Most Read