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Rental housing types in the Greater Vancouver Area, BC Canada

Greater Vancouver offers a variety of accommodations available for rent. The following categorization of rental units is based on ownership, size and amenities.

  • High-rise apartment buildings
    Higher than 5 stories, reinforced concrete buildings equipped with one or more elevators. The whole building is usually owned and operated by a company that may have several other buildings in the area. Most of the time the company employs a resident building manager who is responsible for showing, renting and maintaining apartments as well as collecting rent.
    There are over 200 high-rise rental apartment buildings, most of them built between 1972 and 1985, in the West End area of Downtown Vancouver and many single buildings located in other Grater Vancouver areas.
    High-rise apartment buildings are equipped with intercom systems and security locks to prevent unauthorized access. Central heating as well as hot and cold water are usually included in the rent. Some high-rise buildings may have swimming pools, saunas, storage lockers and other common use facilities. There is usually an additional fee for underground or outside lot parking of about $15 to $40 per month. Coin operated laundry facilities are usually located in the basement of the building and are shared with other tenants.


  • Low-rise apartment buildings
    One to five story wooden structure buildings usually without an elevator. These buildings are often owned by large companies or individual landlords and the building manager may have more than one building to take care of. Central heating as wells as hot and cold water are usually included in the rent. Common use facilities are usually limited to extra storage lockers and a coin operated laundry room.

  • Condominium (Strata Ownership)
    Single apartment units in a high-rise, low-rise or townhouse building owned by individual owners. Common spaces like walkways, grounds and other facilities are shared.
    Condominium owners often rent out their apartments if it is allowed by the building strata committee. Condominiums are usually 'higher end' apartments, often furnished and containing a full set of appliances. Hot water and underground parking may or may not be included in the rent and if heating is electric the cost will most likely be added to your Hydro bill.
    As a tenant you will not have voting rights in the Strata community but you can attend their meetings. You should also be aware of and obey the rules and regulations that are described in the Strata Bylaws.


  • House for rent
    Single, detached houses for rent in Vancouver City are a rarity and can be quite difficult to find. You may get luckier in some other cities within the Greater Vancouver area. Be prepared for an extra scrutiny from the landlord since marijuana grow-up operations are quite popular in BC and lead to great property damage. All living expenses like heating, water, natural gas, electricity and grass cutting will usually become your responsibility.

  • Apartment in a House for rent
    Many of older, Victorian style , large houses were divided by their owners into two or more apartments. Most of the time the apartments include a small kitchen and separate bathroom but sometimes they have to be shared. Shared laundry facility is also common. Houses like this may contain apartments in the attic, main floor and basement.

  • Basement suites
    Bottom floor of a detached (usually single family) house. Quite popular and more affordable than independent apartments. Most of the time they have a separate entrance and access to the laundry facilities.
    Many of these secondary basement suites are referred to as 'illegal' but despite the controversy surrounding single-family dwellings being converted into obvious multiple family rental units in all single-family areas, there is nothing illegal about them as long as the suites meet basic safety and livability standards. The city of Vancouver has even amended its rules and regulations to allow residential properties to each have one ‘secondary’ suite.
    Hot water will probably be included but you may have to pay your electrical bill and heating expense.


  • Co-op housing
    Subsidized cooperative housing complexes may have some apartment units assigned to rent out. Special rules and involvement in the community may apply.

  • Room for rent
    Single room in a hotel, rooming house or single family house. Kitchen, bathrooms and other facilities are shared.

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