A one-bedroom rental in Victoria is listed well below the market average in exchange for helping the family who owns the property.
The monthly rent for the Oak Bay basement suite is $750. It's roughly 900 square feet, furnished and has shared laundry. There's also a kitchenette and a private entrance. The rent includes heat, electricity, water and internet.
But there is a catch.
The family who lives in the house has decided to reduce the rent in exchange for the tenant driving their children to ‘evening activities three times per week,’ which works out to roughly 40 kilometres a week.
In Victoria, the median advertised rent for a one-bedroom apartment in September is $2,288, according to the real estate website Zillow. The BC General Employees’ Union released a report that found the average rent in B.C. increased by 30 per cent from 2016 to 2021, the largest rise of any province.
The basement rental was shared on Reddit with many comments opposing the listing, but the owners of the house say they are trying to be good neighbours.
"We don't want to be landlords and frankly it’s not worth the money or the risk. However, we’re very aware that there’s a housing affordability crisis in Victoria and we have some underutilized space in our home,” the owner told Glacier Media.
The family asked to remain anonymous after reading the hateful comments about their listing.
"Frankly, this whole thing makes us sad,” the owner said. "We’re just trying to be good neighbours and provide inexpensive accommodation to someone starting out.”
Glacier Media contacted the Ministry of Housing about the listing and was told the lack of rental availability in B.C. is concerning.
"Finding a suitable and affordable rental is difficult for many in B.C.,” says a spokesperson. "Arrangements like this, where rent is reduced in exchange for labour, is allowed under the Residential Tenancy Act, as long as there is an agreement signed by both parties setting out the terms.”
The ministry noted additional terms to a tenancy agreement is allowed as long as the tenant agrees and the terms do not contradict the Residential Tenancy Act.
“All shared facilities between tenant and landlord, including laundry, should be outlined in the tenancy agreement,” said the spokesperson, adding the provincial government is making investments to make sure the "kind of housing supply getting built in B.C. is what people need.”
The family says they don't need a tenant; rather, they thought an extra set of hands could free the husband and wife to have dinner together from time to time.
The family wishes people had taken the time to contact them instead of posting comments online.
“It was especially hurtful to read comments from people saying that our kids 'are probably a**holes,'" the owner said.
The suite does not have a full kitchen; the family believes the unit would likely be worth $1,200 per month.
The family also posted the ad on a local university housing Facebook page for even less, at $600, as they believe it would be ideal for a student. They’ve had four inquiries from that post.
"We know that it is extremely difficult for young people so we wanted to do what we could to help."
The owner adds that his children are old enough to stay home so a babysitter is not what they are looking for. They are looking for someone who has their own vehicle and experience with children.
“The things that people write anonymously online have real-world consequences,” he said. "There is a significant reserve of housing supply that could come on if people gave each other the benefit of the doubt and trusted each other a little more.”
The family has chosen to keep the rental listing up. Anyone who's interested can contact them through the original posting.