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Sale of 108-unit apartments in Langley City creates below-market housing

Investment firm owners sell to provincial government and housing society
Rental Protection Fund CEO Katie Maslechko spoke at the provincial announcement on Thursday, March 28, 2024. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

Langley City senior Sonja DeVost expected her rent to be hiked beyond her ability to pay when the building owner put it up for sale. It would mean a move, possible onto the streets.

Instead, she gets to stay in her home of 12 years after the provincial government and New Vista Society stepped in to buy her two-structure complex at 5375 204th St. and 5375 203rd St. from Canadian Apartment Property REIT (CAPREIT) for $35 million.

“Last night was the first full night I slept, knowing they these guys are coming, and we were gonna be taken care of. My heart rate has gone back to normal,” DeVost said.

The deal has been about six months in the making.

“We started to express interest in purchasing this building before this was even on the market,” said Darin Froese, CEO of New Vista.

The province put in $23.8 million through the Rental Protection Fund which means the rents at the 108-unit site will be held at least 35 per cent below market rates.

“We heard concerns about real estate investment trusts buying up buildings, and in some cases displacing renters and increasing rents,” said B.C. Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon. “Today, we are reversing that trend and ensuring that people and families, including those living in these 108 homes, will have the security of staying in the place they know and the community they love.”

The sale was announced Thursday, March 28, when DeVost got to meet her new landlords, the New Vista Society, a Burnaby-based society created in 1943. It provides housing to seniors and has about 850 affordable housing units.

“I think it will give the security that people need to know that they will still have a home and a home that they can afford,” City Mayor Nathan Pachal said of the sale.

The 108 units include some studio apartments and some two-bedroom units but most are one-bedroom units. DeVost said one-bedrooms were renting for about $1,800 per month, which she said was higher than her grandfathered in rent and which she couldn’t afford.

DeVost said she would never be able to afford a new apartment and that the SAFER program subsidy for seniors has been vital to her being able to stay in her home which is close to amenities she requires.

“I can walk to No Frills. I can walk to Life Labs. I can walk to my doctor’s office,” she said.

Froese ended the announcement by handing DeVost his card and encouraging her to call him with any questions. Froese said there would be a tenants’ meeting soon to go over the changes and allow people to ask questions. He said does increase the rent in buildings but it’s the modest amount as outlined in provincial legislation.

The Rent Protection Fund amount includes upgrades to the buildings. Froese said the building, built in 1978, is in good shape. There will be power washing and painting and in the future appliance upgrades.

The $500-million Rental Protection Fund provides one-time capital grants to non-profit housing organizations so they can buy affordable residential rental buildings and co-operatives listed for sale. So far it has been used to purchase 800 units that will be overseen by non-profits.

“Protecting renters — and preserving our existing rental supply — is one of the fastest and most impactful strategies to address the affordability crisis and ensure affordable rental homes are available for future generations,” said Katie Maslechko, CEO of the Rental Protection Fund. “It is a transformative model that ought to be replicated across the country that has made it possible for these homes, put up for sale by a real estate investments trust (REIT), to now be non-profit owned, giving these tenants new opportunities to grow and prosper.”


• READ MORE: Search for affordable housing in Langley stressful for senior

• READ MORE: Federal government announces renters bill of rights


Langley City Mayor Nathal Pachal spoke at the government announcement on Thursday, March 28, 2024, watched by tenants who only found out the day before that their building was purchased by the province. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)
Sonja DeVost, a tenant of the newly sold building, spoke with provincial Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon at the announcement. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)
On Thursday, March 28, 2024, B.C. Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon was in Langley to announce the purchase of 108 apartment units of below-market housing. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

Heather Colpitts

About the Author: Heather Colpitts

Since starting in the news industry in 1992, my passion for sharing stories has taken me around Western Canada.
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