Rent to own is all over the news these days.

And for good reason.

With the monumental challenge of getting into housing these days, people are searching for whatever alternatives may be possible. And governments are trying to facilitate that.

A study released last week by Leger Marketing on behalf of Re/Max found that 48% of Canadians would consider looking into non-traditional means of getting into home ownership. The top non-traditional method was rent to own, with 22% saying they’d consider it. Seventeen percent said they’d consider a co-purchase with a family member or friend and 17% also said they’d consider purchasing a rental property, living in a part of it and renting out the rest.

Rent to Own got a huge publicity boost a couple of years ago when the federal Liberals promised a program in their 2021 election platform. Billions of dollars were promised but, so far, almost nothing has been doled out and the feds have shown a complete disregard for working with any who are already in the industry or experienced in the rent 2 own strategy.

Meanwhile, our provincial government has enacted all sorts of initiatives to help consumers get into the rental market, plenty of which have been discussed in this space. None addressed rent-to-own options directly but all were designed to increase rental options and/or the housing stock overall, thus, hopefully, leading to reduced housing costs.

The spring budget released a couple of weeks ago, had several new initiatives. One was to raise the land transfer tax exemption for first-time homebuyers from $500,000 to $835,000 (a long overdue initiative, but who can afford those prices, anyway?) Another was to remove the land transfer tax from certain new purpose-built rental buildings. A third was to introduce a flipping tax on properties that are resold for a profit within two years of purchase.

So far, it doesn’t appear that housing price increases that were stalled by the rising interest rates have been further stalled by these policies, but that may still come. Rental rate increases may stall but it is unlikely they will drop much, at least not until interest rates drop significantly; after all, landlords have much higher costs to cover.

With the programs already in place, and the desire by both municipalities and developers to address the housing needs, some developers have tried to include rent-to-own options in new housing projects. Their plans have attracted a lot of interest, but developers are finding it hard to make the financials work. And few have therefore benefitted.

Now opposition leader and would-be premier Kevin Falcon has vaulted rent 2 own into the spotlight again by promising significant rent-to-own initiatives if he is elected premier in October. He knows the challenges, having seen the numbers when he worked with developers. But, of course, he has to win an election first and, even then, will the program work?

With all the new interest in rent 2 own, The Vancouver Sun devoted the better part of three pages in its Saturday (Mar. 2) edition. I’m proud to have been a contributor to the story, and extremely proud of the testimonial that one of our previous clients contributed.

I encourage everyone to read the article from the Vancouver Sun, which you can access here.