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Strata council prevails in dispute over restricted condo rentals

With the dismissal of a recent appeal case brought before the British Columbia Court of Appeal, strata councils in Vancouver have strengthened their right to restrict condo rentals.

A single rental out of 158 units

The dispute began when one family's application to rent out one of the three units they own at South Granville's Hycroft Towers was rejected. The condo rules allow for only one of the Towers' 158 residential units to be rented out at any given time. In spite of this restriction, the family went ahead with their plan and the case ended up in to court.

The family argued that strata councils should provide specific criteria for granting permission to rent out condo units. But the judge disagreed, pointing out the difficulty of devising screening criteria that would fit neatly into provincial strata law.

The court ruled that Hycroft Towers' strata council can continue upholding its restrictions on rentals with no obligation to explain its rationale to the units' owners.

Increased pressure on the housing market

The decision comes at an interesting time in Vancouver's tight housing market, with its superheated real estate prices and with rental vacancy rates hovering near zero in most neighbourhoods.

Meanwhile, the City of Vancouver is proposing a vacancy tax on homes that remain empty most of the year. But in the wake of the Hycroft Towers decision, condo owners who want to generate rental income may well find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place - with the vacancy tax looming on one side and strata council rules restricting them on the other. This, despite the fact that one study found almost all of the 10,800 Vancouver homes empty for at least the whole of 2014 were condominiums.

Local and provincial politicians continue to grapple with the delicate balance between the need to solve a growing housing crisis and reluctance to force the hand of strata councils to open up their properties to renters.

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