Vancouver Cave Rentals: Are They Legal?

It’s not uncommon for prospective renters looking for affordable options in Vancouver to come across listings where someone looking for a roommate has crammed a single bed into a windowless downtown home. But are these arrangements legal?

In the last example, a small space is advertised on Craigslist for $650 a month.

“(A) very private space with door for privacy and curtain,” the listing reads, noting that it is located in a two-bedroom unit in a high-rise Yaletown that would be shared with two other people.

While there can be both a door and a curtain, only one can be closed because the mattress that dominates the room – despite its small size – leaves no room to close the door.

There is no closet or dresser, but there is a narrow, freestanding shelf, along with several others on the walls.

“Good for college/international student or anyone with small luggage who needs a place to sleep,” the ad continues.

No photos of the building are provided, but the ad describes it as being on an upper floor of a “luxury” tower with its own pool, sauna, steam room, gym and activity room. The ad also states that current renters are looking for someone who is quiet, clean, respectful, has no pets, does not drink or smoke, and does not bring visitors home.


While renting out small digs like this may seem like it’s against regulations, an expert says these arrangements are actually legal.

Robert Patterson, an attorney with the Tenant Resource Advisory Council, says situations where someone is looking for a roommate are not limited by provincial law.

“Who uses which room to sleep, or what do you have – however that is arranged – does not violate the Housing Rental Act. Unless there are so many people in the unit that it becomes an unreasonable number, and then the landlord has the right to cancel the rent for that,” he explains.

As for city ordinances that regulate things like building and fire codes, Patterson says those apply to developers or homeowners trying to get approval to build new suites, and he’s not aware of any restrictions on how the space can be used. can be used once built and rented out.

“Generally speaking, I’m allowed to do that if I’m someone who lives in a rental unit and I’m bringing in roommates,” he says.

While Patterson says there are examples of landlords “aggressively dividing units into aggressively small, tiny spaces” as a way to “take advantage” of the home’s affordability crisis, he says such lists illustrate an entirely different problem.

Both the people who advertise these spaces and the people who are considering renting them, Patterson said, are navigating a rental market where the average studio rents for $2,000 a month and vacancy rates remain stubbornly low.

“There’s just nothing available at an affordable price in their community, which is why people will turn to something like that,” he says.

“People who split rental properties in all these ways is often because they can’t afford the rent they have to pay. People, because they can’t find anything affordable, they take something that’s priceless and hope and try the best they can to get other getting people to share the costs with them.”

While accommodation sharing is an option many people seek to share the burden of sky-high rents, Patterson points out that it also comes with a built-in risk.

“Any time you get into a roommate relationship with someone, you open yourself up to potential liability to each other for things that could go wrong,” he says.

“It just goes to show that people are so desperate for housing, so desperate and unable to pay their own rent, that people on both sides of this equation are willing to take that risk.”

CTV News Vancouver has contacted the ad poster to get more information about this rental, but has not received a response.


While the central location and amenities promised in the Craigslist ad may tempt some renters to compromise on space and privacy, Patterson says this rent illustrates one of the biggest drivers of the housing crisis.

“If anyone is seriously considering paying for such a small room for $650, they won’t be able to afford the luxury delivery units. Those are the only things that come on the market, the only things that are built in reasonable numbers,” he said. he. say.

Substantial investment in affordable and off-market options is the only strategy that will successfully drive down prices in Canada’s most expensive market, Patterson said.

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