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CAMPBELL: ‘Lepers’: Dirty Victoria landlords refuse to rent to single moms to avoid ‘drama’

One single mom had a friend pretend he was her husband to secure a rental unit

According to the recent rent report by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the vacancy rate for Victoria condo apartments is a microscopic 0.2 per cent.

Oh, and rents have skyrocketed 6.7 per cent to $1,700 for a one-bedroom unit and more than $2,300 for a two-bedroom unit.

So, yeah, things are still bad for renters in Victoria.

It’s tough to find a place to live because there are too many people looking and not enough listings. Meanwhile, Victoria NIMBYs continue to fight any plans for adding density.

RELATED: Stop calling Victoria’s missing middle plan ‘divisive’ just because of noisy NIMBYs

If you have a pet, you probably will have to forget it because many landlords avoid pet owners.

But according to some Victoria renters, things are especially bad for a certain type of tenant looking for housing - single moms.

Since I started writing about the rental crisis in Victoria, I’ve been contacted by a wide array of renters telling me their horror stories.

Some of those are single moms who claim they are being discriminated against – and not because of their children but because they are no longer living with the father.

“I feel like we’re lepers,” one single mom told me. “I have gotten close to being accepted as a renter in apartments and basement suites until I told them I also have a child. Then their attitude immediately changes. Some have openly told me there is too much drama associated with single mothers. Which is BS. I finally got a friend to pretend he was my husband and the landlord was happy to rent to me. It’s ridiculous.”

(FYI: I’m not naming the moms because they fear landlords googling their names and seeing this story pop up.)

Another single mom told me she’s lost count of how many times she’s been “ghosted” over this.

“Unfortunately, as soon as landlords hear the words ‘single mom’ they usually stop talking to me or hang up on me because they want nothing to do with the ‘drama’ that follows a single mom,” she said. “Or at least that’s what I was told when I moved in here. I didn’t understand why I kept getting ghosted by every person that I had contacted about a place for me and my son to live. Until a land manager … informed me that people don’t like to rent to single moms because of what comes with them. My son’s father has never been involved and could care less so this was something I was unfamiliar with and just didn’t understand at the time. I still don’t agree with it but am still struggling to find something that isn’t considered a public place to my neighbours.”

This prejudice is an unfair stereotype. I’ve been – and still am – a landlord and have never had trouble renting to a single mother. The problem has always been dudes who get drunk and do damage.

This kind of discrimination has got to stop.

Meanwhile, cities in the Greater Victoria region need to boost the stock of rental housing.

One good place to start is with the Harris Green Village proposal that, if approved, would add 1,600 rental units within a boundary encompassing Yates, View, Quadra and Cook streets. A public hearing is set for Feb. 9.

The CMHC report detailed how bad things are in Victoria.

“Record-breaking rent growth occurred in the Victoria CMA in 2022,” it said. “The average rent for purpose-built rental apartments increased by 7.7% in 2022, the fastest growth since 1991. This was driven by strong rent increases in units that were turned over to new tenants. As an example, a turnover two-bedroom apartment was rented at a 33% higher rent, on average, than an occupied unit in the same building.”

With the Province of BC capping rents, turning over rental units is how landlords cash in.

RELATED: ‘Prudish’ Victoria landlord sues to stop tenant from living with her boyfriend

Chris Campbell is an editor with Black Press Media working in the Victoria newspaper hub. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @shinebox44.

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