Dale Regehr is a builder who has switched to rental housing. From the window of one of his Langley City projects, you can see his next building under construction. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance)

Plans afoot for more rental housing in Langley

Demand is rising, says a developer planning a large new project.

The Langleys are seeing an increasing interest in new rental construction from several local builders, and one of the biggest local developers is planning a large new project in the Township.

Langley City and Township have seen a recent boom in purpose-built rental housing. Several projects have been built in the City, mostly near the 200th Street corridor, where they are mixed in with condo housing.

Purpose-built rental has been much rarer in the Township.

Until recently, the Township has lagged, and most rental housing was in secondary suites, noted Township Mayor Jack Froese.

But over the past two years several apartment buildings have gone up, including a couple in the Yorkson area of Willoughby, and another unit in Murrayville.

“Really, the industry is addressing the market demand,” Froese said.

A local builder said the demand is definitely there.

“Everybody is just desperate to rent,” said developer Dale Regehr.

He’s already built one 90-unit multi-storey rental apartment building in Langley City. It’s been open a year, with Regehr’s second, 98-unit project under construction next door.

He believes many existing rental property owners don’t feel motivated to build new rental stock, but as a younger developer and builder, he looks ahead.

“This is a much longer term thing,” he said, comparing it to condo development.

There might be no immediate profit with rental, but it pays off over a 20-year time span, he said.

In Metro Vancouver, so many rental accommodations have been torn down to make way for condos or townhouses, that a new rental building is very attractive, Regehr believes. The tenants are thrilled to move into a new building, knowing it won’t be sold out from under them.

For a high quality building like the ones Regehr is building – his existing building has a small movie theatre, a sizable gym, and a community room with wifi – the rent is not cheap enough for someone on assistance or a low fixed income. A one-bedroom goes for about $1,300, and a two bedroom is just under $1,600.

His City projects have had just under 100 units, but Regehr is now planning a larger project in the Township.

He’s looking at creating a 481-unit project, with amenities on a larger scale.

“We’re doing a 30-child daycare in the amenity building,” he said.

The project has not yet gone before Township council.

Langley Township has a strategic goal to increase the amount of rental housing in the community, said manager of community development Ramin Seifi.

A bylaw passed recently makes it easier to move forward with another type of rental housing – non-profit. The Township will be waiving development cost charges for non-profit rentals to help them get built.

At least one such project is in the planning phases for Willoughby.

With the changes in the local housing market caused by rising interest rates, Froese expects interest in renting to go up.

“Every time you have an interest rate increase… the number of those seeking to rent increases,” he said.

Getting the Township to a healthy mix of rentals and market housing is the goal, he said.

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