Roughly one-in-10 households that rent in B.C. say they were forced to move during a recent five-year period, a significantly higher eviction rate than any other region in Canada, says a new University of B.C. report.
‘I have nowhere to go’: B.C. is Canada’s eviction capital, new research shows
This is in sharp contrast to previous research that showed, between 2004 and 2017, that evictions in B.C. were more commonly due to something the tenant had done, such as failing to pay rent, and very infrequently for reasons such as landlords wanting to move into their units.
“Evictions have long been viewed as a response to ‘bad tenants,’ ” says the report, Estimating No-Fault Evictions in Canada: Understanding B.C.’s Disproportionate Eviction Rate in the 2021 Canadian Housing Survey.
But more recently, attention has shifted to evictions being driven by the “financialization” of the housing stock, defined as “the increasing treatment of housing as an investment asset, rather than as a social good,” the report says.
“While these (no-fault evictions) can involve evictions for genuine personal use, they are often financially motivated, caused by the landlord’s belief that they can sell the property for a profit or increase the rent if they evict the tenant or renovate the unit,” says the new report, co-authored by researcher Silas Xuereb and Craig Jones, associate director of UBC’s Housing Research Collaborative.
Jones said his research team didn’t expect to uncover the fact that such a large majority of evictions in B.C. over the last five years would involve no fault by the tenant, but he cautioned that he can’t say how many may have been done in bad faith.
The data Jones used in the report comes from Statistics Canada’s Canadian Housing Survey, which for the first time in 2021 asked respondents for the reasons their landlords asked them to move. It’s the first tangible glimpse into the scope of the reasons behind evictions across the country; this data doesn’t exist at the provincial level because most governments, including in B.C., only track the evictions that tenants challenge, not the overall number that take place.
A new survey of 443 evicted tenants by Vancouver-based non-profit First United, published Saturday in The Vancouver Sun, found only one-third of those facing evictions filed complaints with B.C.’s Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB), the government agency responsible for dispute resolution services for landlords and tenants. First United’s Eviction Mapping project also found no-fault evictions were far more common than cases in which tenants hadn’t paid the rent, caused damage or were evicted for bad behaviour.
Jones’s report estimated that, based on the federal data, 253,000 to 331,000 renter households containing 531,000 to 770,000 renters were evicted between April 2016 and April 2021. A B.C. breakdown wasn’t provided, but this province would represent a significant portion of these numbers as it leads the nation in evictions.
Linda de Gonzalez is one of the unlucky ones facing the loss of her longtime home.
The Surrey resident received a letter last month from the landlord of her building, Winsome Place, where she has rented her modest, two-bedroom apartment for two decades. The 70-year-old pensioner was asked to agree to start paying $1,450 on June 1, a jump of 43 per cent from her current monthly rate of $1,014.
“It really was utterly and completely devastating. I literally felt my stomach fall out,” said de Gonzalez, who worries she would never find a replacement apartment within her budget for her and her pet birds. “I just sat on the floor and I cried and I cried and I cried. And I kept thinking what am I going to do? I have nowhere to go.”
Her Newton-area building, home to a mix of seniors and young immigrant families, had always operated like an apartment building. But unbeknownst to de Gonzalez and her neighbours it’s actually strata-titled, meaning each of the 72 suites could be sold separately.
When May 10 arrived, de Gonzalez decided not to sign, saying she had have no money left for groceries after paying her other expenses.
“I decided that if they’re gonna kick me out, then I’ll end up living in my car with my birds in the back seat,” said the retired accounting clerk.
Although provincial law restricts annual rent increases to two per cent, landlords are permitted to raise rents higher than that if they get permission from the RTB or if they get their tenants to agree. Therefore what de Gonzalez’s landlord is trying to do is legal, said Zuzana Modrovic of the non-profit Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre (TRAC), which has been helping the Winsome Place tenants.
It’s a difficult situation for tenants, Modrovic said, because even if they agree to pay more rent, there is nothing stopping landlords from raising it again or selling the units.
“B.C.’s housing is based so much on (private) landlords providing a sporadic mosaic of different types of tenancies, and there’s a bunch of inconsistencies on how different landlords apply the rules,” said Samarakoone, who is also chair of the Green Party of Vancouver.
“We’ve moved so far from government-provided housing, and we’ve gone so much into this system of private landlords, and we’re not providing the adequate safety net.
Even when landlords follow all the rules, it’s not realistic to expect the private sector to provide affordable housing if it means they’re losing money due to external pressures such as variable interest rates.
“Those pressures will compel them to make decisions, and some decisions are not in bad faith, they’re just doing it so they’re not going in to the red,” Samarakoone said. “If it’s private owners, how can we expect there to be affordable housing? Everybody’s trying to make a profit.”
Jones’s report confirmed evictions were more common with private landlords, and far less common in co-ops and non-market housing. B.C. needs more purpose-built rental housing — something that governments have embraced in recent years, but there is a lot of catching up to do after decades of inaction, Jones said.
“I really feel like we have a home here with some real security of tenure,” Jones said.
But it takes time to construct new buildings, and there are changes that could be made at the RTB in the short-term to help tenants during this housing crisis, said First United lawyer Sarah Marsden.
This includes requiring landlords to apply to end tenancies, similar to the law in Ontario, which would make the RTB aware of all formal eviction attempts; more flexibility with the rule allowing eviction if the rent is more than five days late, especially if the amount owing is small; and if a tenant loses a dispute before the RTB, extending the time they must vacate the unit beyond two days, because this short period deters many from pursuing disputes, said Marsden.
“Landlord’s use” was identified as a “concerning trend” in Jones’s report, and both Marsden and Modrovic said it could be clipped if government took the same action as it did with renovictions: requiring the landlord to file paperwork to prove which relative is moving in and why they need to live there.
David Hutniak of the industry group Landlord B.C. rejects the idea that renovictions have been replaced by landlords ending tenancies for personal use, arguing it’s an apples-to-oranges comparison.
Renovictions “were occurring in purpose-built rental” buildings, he argued, while ending tenancies for personal use mainly takes place in the secondary market, when owners want to reclaim their basement suites or condos.
He added landlords caught lying about ending tenancies for personal use face “harsh” new penalties of reimbursing displaced tenants with up to 12 months’ rent.
That may be true, Modrovic said, but if the landlord can hike the rent high enough for a new tenant, then it wouldn’t take long to make up for that financial penalty.
It remains “incredibly difficult” for people to find rental housing they can afford in the current rental market, Modrovic said.
However, they added, “If there’s light at the end of the tunnel, it does seem that the government is at least somewhat receptive to what advocates say the problems are. And we are hopeful that we will see some change to what we see as the biggest problems.”
Unveiling the Reality of Canada’s FACE Loan for Black Businesses
In an effort to address economic disparities and promote entrepreneurship among Black communities, Canada introduced the Federal Black Entrepreneurship Program (FBEP) and the associated Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund (BEFL). However, recent revelations have brought to light a shocking reality: the underutilization and obstacles faced by Black businesses in accessing the FACE (Funding for Black Entrepreneurship) loans. In this thought-provoking article, we delve into the numbers and uncover the challenges and experiences of Black entrepreneurs in navigating these loan programs. Through interviews with business owners, experts, and advocates, we shed light on the systemic barriers that hinder their success and explore potential solutions for a more equitable and inclusive lending landscape.
The FACE loan program was created with the intention of providing financial support and resources to Black-owned businesses. However, the reality has been far from the expected outcomes. Jessica Thompson, an economist specializing in racial disparities, states, “The FACE loan program was designed to address historical economic disadvantages, but the numbers reveal a significant gap between its objectives and the lived experiences of Black entrepreneurs.”
Black entrepreneurs face numerous hurdles when attempting to access FACE loans. A lack of awareness about the program, complex application processes, and limited outreach to communities in need contribute to low participation rates. Michael Johnson, a business owner, shares his frustration, saying, “It’s disheartening to see a program that was meant to uplift Black businesses fall short due to bureaucratic obstacles. Many of us struggle to navigate the application process and meet the stringent criteria.”
Systemic barriers and discrimination persist within the lending landscape, perpetuating the cycle of inequality. Dr. Maya Williams, a sociologist specializing in racial disparities, explains, “Structural racism and bias continue to disadvantage Black entrepreneurs. Discrimination in loan approvals, higher interest rates, and limited access to capital contribute to the challenges faced by Black-owned businesses.”
The consequences of the FACE loan program’s shortcomings are far-reaching. Many Black-owned businesses struggle to access the capital needed for growth, expansion, and operational sustainability. Tanya Campbell, a business owner, emphasizes, “The lack of financial support hampers our ability to scale our businesses, hire employees, and contribute to the local economy. It perpetuates a cycle of limited opportunities and restricted growth.”
To address the disparities within the FACE loan program, experts and advocates propose several solutions. Improved outreach and community engagement, simplified application processes and tailored support services can increase access and awareness among Black entrepreneurs. John Stevens, a business consultant, suggests, “The government must invest in targeted initiatives that address the specific needs and challenges faced by Black-owned businesses, such as mentorship programs, financial literacy training, and capacity-building initiatives.”
Addressing the challenges faced by Black entrepreneurs requires collaboration and accountability from various stakeholders. Governments, financial institutions, and community organizations must work together to create an inclusive lending ecosystem. Mary Johnson, an advocate for Black economic empowerment, states, “Transparency, accountability, and ongoing dialogue between policymakers, lenders, and Black entrepreneurs are essential to drive meaningful change and ensure equal opportunities for all.”
The FACE loan program aimed to empower Black entrepreneurs and address economic disparities, but the reality falls short of expectations. The underutilization and obstacles faced by Black businesses in accessing FACE loans highlight the pressing need for systemic change within the lending landscape. By acknowledging and addressing the structural barriers, streamlining processes, and fostering collaboration, we can create a more inclusive and equitable environment where Black entrepreneurs thrive. It is through proactive measures, collective effort, and ongoing dialogue that we can dismantle systemic inequities and build a future where Black-owned businesses have equal access to the resources and support necessary for success.
Oil Prices Climb As Default Fears Fade
Crude oil began trading this week with a gain after President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy were reported to have reached a provisional agreement on raising the debt ceiling.
At the time of writing, Brent crude was trading at over $77 per barrel and West Texas Intermediate was changing hands at over $73 per barrel.
Debt ceiling negotiations have been a major factor for oil price movements in the past couple of weeks, mostly because of the apparent inability of Republicans and Democrats in Congress to strike any semblance of an agreement on how to increase the federal government’s borrowing power.
According to early reports on the tentative deal, it involves flat spending over the next two years and the recycling of unused Covid funds.
Although such tense negotiations have been relatively regular in past years, they have eventually ended with an agreement, and default has invariably been avoided.
This historical evidence could have served to stabilize prices but it did not, and neither did mixed data about China’s recovery. On the one hand, PMI readings are showing an uneven rebound in economic activity, but on the other, demand for oil as evidenced by import rates, is going strong.
To complicate the picture further, OPEC+ is reportedly in two minds about what to do with its output at its next meeting.
According to reports quoting Saudi Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman, he has hinted at another round of output cuts.
According to reports quoting Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister and top OPEC+ official Alexander Novak, the co-leader of the extended cartel is fine with production where it is right now.
Thanks to its recent gains, oil’s decline since the start of the year has shrunk from about 14% earlier this month to just 9% as of the start of this week, according to Bloomberg.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.
U.S. debt-limit deal brings relief tinged by caution
American equity futures posted modest gains amid cautious optimism the U.S. will avert a catastrophic default after the weekend’s tentative debt-ceiling deal. European stocks wavered in muted holiday-affected trading.
Contracts on the S&P 500 climbed about 0.2 per cent, while those on the Nasdaq 100 were up around 0.3 per cent, with trading set to end early for Memorial Day. The dollar, which has benefited from angst around the statutory borrowing limit, held Friday’s decline while Treasury futures were flat in the absence of cash trading.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index edged lower, with Spain’s benchmark underperforming after Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called a surprise snap election following heavy losses for his party in regional and local elections Sunday. Volumes were about 60 per cent lower than usual as markets in the U.K. and some European countries remained closed for national holidays. SBB gained after the embattled Swedish landlord said it may look to sell the company. A gauge of Asia-Pacific equities rose, though Chinese shares slid closer to a bear market.
President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy expressed confidence that their agreement to curtail spending and extend the borrowing limit will pass through Congress. But even assuming lawmakers seal the deal before the U.S. government runs out of cash in about a week, traders still have much to contend with — from the prospect of another interest-rate hike from the Federal Reserve to a likely deluge of bond issuance from the U.S. Treasury Department.
“The obvious positive interpretation is that a negative tail risk is close to being taken off the table,” said Dan Suzuki, deputy chief investment officer at Richard Bernstein Advisors. “With the distraction of the debt ceiling fading into the background, investors can now refocus their attention on the underlying fundamentals. One concern, though, is that the fundamental picture remains precarious.”
European bonds rose, with Germany’s 10-year yield falling about 11 basis points. Spain’s 10-year yield dropped by a similar amount.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s lira weakened after Recep Tayyip Erdogan won a presidential runoff election on Sunday, extending his time as the nation’s longest-serving leader and leaving investors looking for any signs he’ll start to relax the state’s tight grip over markets. The nation’s stocks benchmark gained.
Gold was flat on waning demand for havens, while as oil held onto most of Friday’s gains and Bitcoin climbed, reflecting a modestly buoyant tone.
The agreement struck by Biden and McCarthy is running against the clock given that June 5 is the date when Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said cash will run out. There is plenty in the deal that Democrats and Republicans won’t like.
“Uncertainty persists regarding the duration and severity of the ongoing earnings recession, and perversely, the near-term tightening of liquidity may worsen due to the government’s need to address its debt issuance backlog,” said Suzuki. “While the markets managed to avert an immediate crisis, the coast is far from all-clear just yet.”
The rate-sensitive two-year Treasury drifted Friday as traders considered how a debt agreement could play into the Fed’s path forward on interest rates. The two-year yield hovered around 4.65 per cent after a report on consumer spending showed the Fed still has more work to do to bring inflation back toward its target.
“Markets will have the liquidity hassles to deal with, as the Treasury will issue a deluge of bonds to restore its cash reserves,” said Charu Chanana, market strategist at Saxo Capital Markets. “Not to forget, the hawkish re-pricing of the Fed path that we have seen last week could possibly get firmer if we get a hot jobs print this week.”
Key events this week:
- U.S. Memorial Day holiday. U.K., Switzerland and some Nordic markets also closed for holidays, Monday
- Eurozone economic confidence, consumer confidence, Tuesday
- U.S. consumer confidence, Tuesday
- Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin interviewed by NABE as part of monetary policy webinar series, Tuesday
- China manufacturing PMI, non-manufacturing PMI, Wednesday
- U.S. job openings, Wednesday
- Fed issues Beige Book economic survey, Wednesday
- Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker has fireside chat on the global macro-economy and monetary conditions, Wednesday
- Boston Fed President Susan Collins and Fed Governor Michelle Bowman speak in Boston, Wednesday.
- ECB issues financial stability review, Wednesday
- China Caixin manufacturing PMI, Thursday
- Eurozone HCOB Eurozone Manufacturing PMI, CPI, unemployment, Thursday
- U.S. construction spending, initial jobless claims, ISM Manufacturing, light vehicle sales, Thursday
- ECB issues report its May 3-4 monetary policy meeting. ECB President Christine Lagarde speaks at German savings banks conference, Thursday
- Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker speaks on economic outlook at NABE’s webinar, Thursday
- U.S. unemployment, nonfarm payrolls, Friday
Some of the main moves in markets:
- S&P 500 futures rose 0.2 per cent as of 9:56 a.m. New York time
- Futures on the Nasdaq 100 rose 0.3 per cent
- The Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.2 per cent
- The MSCI World index was little changed
- The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed
- The euro fell 0.1 per cent to US$1.0709
- The British pound was unchanged at $1.2344
- The Japanese yen rose 0.3 per cent to 140.22 per dollar
- Bitcoin rose 1.3 per cent to $27,919.46
- Ether rose 2.5 per cent to $1,901.1
- Germany’s 10-year yield declined 11 basis points to 2.43 per cent
- West Texas Intermediate crude fell 0.3 per cent to $72.43 a barrel
- Gold futures were little changed
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