Rental opportunities dry up as real estate market heats up

When real estate was slow, owners rented instead of sold. Now that the market is good, renters worry that their homes will be sold

According to the numbers, the housing market on Bowen is still hot – very hot.

Since the beginning of January, 55 homes have sold, while in all of 2014, the total was 60. While this is good news for some people, it seems to be making for challenging times for renters.

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Realtor David Riddell is also a property manager who deals with rental properties. He says that while the rental market on Bowen is always tight, the situation has come to a head this summer.

“I get calls constantly regardless of the market, and I’ve always told people that there is basically zero vacancy on Bowen so if they find something suitable, they should jump at the opportunity,” says Riddell. “But when the real estate market was soft, there were lots of home owners who decided to hold off on selling and rent their homes. Now I get a lot of calls from renters who are anticipating that the homes they’re living in will be sold.”

Riddell says that he’s happy to hear that the Accessory Building Bylaw has been brought forward in council yet again.

“I was a member of the Housing Task Force that legalized secondary suites back in 2004-2005,” says Riddell. “A majority of members on that committee believed that ‘accessory buildings,’ basically another whole building that can be rented out for someone to live in, should be legalized as well. That didn’t happen, but now more than ever we need places for people to live. We don’t have condos and we have a limited number of apartments available for renters. That really needs to be front and centre in the minds of council.”

Mayor Murray Skeels put accessory buildings on council’s agenda on July 13.

 and it was agreed that the Advisory Planning Commission (APC) should take another look at having it passed.

Skeels says he brought it up because he sees it as low-hanging fruit when it comes to creating more housing diversity on Bowen.

“When this issue came up a number of years ago, there weren’t enough planning resources available to make it happen,” says Skeels. “So I figure we should bring it back and see if it flies. It is a very simple bylaw, and if we can figure out the right conditions for it – how big the accessory buildings should be and on what size of property. Hopefully people won’t object to it.”

Councillor Melanie Mason suggested that an affordable housing committee be set up to broaden the possibilities for diverse housing.

In a later interview, she said she sees this bylaw as a good, “first step,” but is also hopeful that the municipality’s new planner, Daniel Martin, will be able to help move things forward as he has a background in affordable housing.

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