Frequently asked questions
- As Vancouver grows and evolves, we need to ensure there are a variety of housing options that meet the needs of everyone, including housing that is affordable to those who live and work here.
- An important part of adding variety and filling the significant gap in rental supply (almost no new rental housing was built in Vancouver between 1980 and 2010)- is making it easier to build rental housing across all areas of the city.
- Additional benefits of adding rental housing around shopping streets with transit is that more residents will be able to live within close proximity of their daily needs. This will advance our Climate Emergency Action Plan (reducing green house gas pollution) and help create more Complete Neighbourhoods.
- In 2018, the Province gave municipalities the authority to zone for rental tenure housing in select areas where multi-family housing is allowed. This tool allows municipalities to require new housing to be developed as rental; set different rules that restrict the rental or ownership types of housing units (or forms of tenure) for different zones and locations within a zone; and require that a certain number of housing units in a building be rental.
- This is the first use of residential rental zoning in Vancouver and we will be applying this tool broadly across commercial areas (C2) as density bonus (up to 6 storeys) to encourage the creation of more rental directly in the zoning.
- The City is proposing to use the tool to create new “rental zones” to allow rental redevelopments in low density areas. This will enable new apartment and townhouse forms in select low density areas close to shopping and transit.
- C2 Areas - The City is using the rental tenure zoning tool to provide a height and density bonus to encourage 6 storey rentals, but existing 4 storey strata will still be allowed.
- Low Density Areas - The city is using rental tenure zoning to create a new rezoning option that requires all residential floor area allowed through new zones to be secured as rental housing. All of the blocks that are eligible remain under current zoning until and unless a rental rezoning application is approved.
- A shortened permit approval process for commercial mixed-use areas to allow six-storey rental buildings. With this change, new six-storey rental buildings on commercial streets will follow the same approval process as a four storey condo building, and require a development permit only. This aims to level the playing field between strata and rental developments in C-2.
- This new approach will make it faster and simpler to build new rental housing by introducing new standard rental zones to regulate the size and shape of rental buildings to replace the current requirement to provide a specific building design at the time of rezoning. Updated site eligibility criteria mean that new rental buildings will be located within walking distance of public transportation, shopping and other daily needs. New rental buildings up to six storeys will also continue to be allowed in low density areas through rezoning.
- All C2 properties outside of existing community plan areas will be included in the amendments to C2 zoning to allow 6 storey rental buildings wherever 4 storey strata can be built today.
- For the low density areas, the City has created a map showing the areas of eligibility for rezoning to rental. The map is a general illustration, and is meant to be used along with diagrams to identify which blocks would be eligible for rezoning and whether sites can be considered for on or off arterial options. The latest map update and diagrams can be found in the proposed actions section of this page.
- If you would like more information on whether your property meets the requirements of the policy please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will respond by email.
What is secured rental housing?
Rental housing secured through a legal agreement that ensures it cannot be converted to a condo or strata unit. Apartment buildings are the most common form of secured rental housing.
Other types of rental housing, such as a rented basement suite or condo unit, are less secure. Owners can evict tenants to move in, and tenants are often forced to move when the unit is bought or sold.
Why is secure rental housing important?
What is residential rental tenure zoning and how are we using this tool in Vancouver?
The rents in new buildings are high. Why does the city say that new rental housing is affordable?
The cost of ownership has grown out of reach for most Vancouver households due to the rising ownership costs and relatively stable median incomes in the city. Rental housing provides secure, long-term housing for a diversity of incomes in the city.
Does using residential rental tenure zoning mean that only rental can be built?
What is the Secured Rental Policy?
The intent of the Secured Rental Policy is to encourage more purpose-built rental housing city-wide by offering a range of incentives, including additional density, parking relaxations, and Development Cost Levy Waivers. Rental rezoning policies have been in place since 2012.
The new Secured Rental Policy was approved in 2019 and includes the following changes to streamline the process and make it easier to build rental housing in more neighbourhoods:
I want to know if this policy applies to my property. How can I find out?
Won’t these changes create speculation and impact land values?
Based on these findings and ongoing monitoring of the City’s rental housing incentive programs over the last decade, no increase in land value or speculation is anticipated as a result of the Secured Rental Policy. In the vast majority of cases, the highest value of properties in RS and RT areas will continue to be based on their use as houses or duplexes.
The City has had extensive third party economic analyses completed to test the impact of the proposed rental incentive policies. These analyses demonstrate that incentives are necessary to make new rental projects financially viable compared to the value of existing housing (e.g. a house with a secondary suite and a laneway house in RS zones).
These changes are focused on market rental housing - what is the City doing to address the need for affordable housing?
The Housing Vancouver Strategy outlines the City’s key priorities, actions and targets to address the housing crisis and create more affordable housing, including by delivering 12,000 new social housing units that meet the needs of lower income individuals and families. To achieve this the City is working with senior levels of government, including BC Housing and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, as well as partners in the non-profit housing sector. The City is also directing $540 million to affordable housing through the current 4-year Capital Plan. In addition, the City also has policies in place that preserve the existing rental stock, including the Rental Housing Stock Official Development Plan that requires rental replacement on new developments.
Why are these areas being considered for zoning changes for new rental housing in advance of the Vancouver Plan?
Since 2012, city policy has allowed rezoning applications in both C2 commercial areas and in low density residential areas (RS and RT zones). The Secured Rental Policy is an update to the previous policy. Increasing the supply of new market and below-market rental housing across Vancouver, is part of the Council-approved Housing Vancouver Strategy and 3-Year Action Plan. Advancing these changes now to allow more rental housing in more neighbourhoods will help advance a number of the key goals identified in the Planning Vancouver Together Process to develop a long-term, strategic Vancouver Plan. These include becoming an affordable city with diverse and secure housing, becoming a sustainable and carbon neutral city with less dependency on private vehicles and creating more complete, connected neighbourhoods.
Why is this work proceeding during a public health crisis? How will COVID-19 impact the timeline for this work?
The pandemic has meant that we can’t host in person events, but as with other city process we are providing other ways for the public to engage. Providing more rental housing is also an important part of the City’s work to address the housing crisis, which continues to be a priority during the COVID-19 emergency response. Staff completed the majority of the public and stakeholder engagement in 2019 and early 2020, including in-person meetings at venues across the city in March 2020. Since then, engagement has shifted to online tools and Council has directed staff to advance the rental policy as part of the Quick Start Actions while work on the Vancouver Plan continues. This work was delayed during 2020 by the Covid-19 pandemic, but staff now anticipate reporting to council in fall 2021.
I know someone that wants to provide comments, but is not comfortable with computers. What can they do?
We can mail them a paper copy of our comment form on request, and they can mail it back to us.