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

The Capital Regional District spent $1.7 million to restore the Todd Creek Trestle. (Sooke News Mirror)
Todd Creek Trestle restoration completed

Restoration work adds 35 to 50 years to life span of the structure

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich residents warned to watch livestock after bear kills llama

Officers with Conservation, Saanich police could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

An artists rendering of the proposed Aragon Properties development in Sooke’s town centre shows a friendly, walkable neighbourhood. (Contributed graphic)
Large housing development eyed for Sooke core

Aragon Properties seeks to build 132 housing units

Local New Democrat Zeb King welcomed Premier John Horgan during a brief photo opportunity in Sidney Monday afternoon (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
NDP leader John Horgan predicts party will ‘flip’ Saanich North and the Islands

Incumbent MLA Adam Olsen calls Horgan’s claim ‘bold’

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

(File photo)
RCMP: Two men face charges in reported Parksville fatal hit-and-run

Investigation into man’s death began in August of 2019

OPINION SIG
SOOKE HISTORY: Prince of Wales visited Sooke twice

Royal connections to Lady Emily Walker and Rev. Reginald Walker

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Steven Michael Bacon pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder of Nanaimo teen Makayla Chang. (Photos submitted)
Accused pleads not guilty in Nanaimo teen’s 2017 murder

Steven Bacon appeared in Nanaimo court Monday via video link from Thunder Bay

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Most Read