Abbotsford resident Stephanie Reimer and her daughter April spent almost a month living in a tent in a local campground after they lost their rental suite and were unable to find another in their price range.

(With video) Rising rents forced Abbotsford family into tent

‘I just felt helpless and like I was a failure’ mom says

  • Jul. 6, 2016 9:00 a.m.

After two months of searching and failing to find a place to rent in the Abbotsford area for her and her daughter, Stephanie Reimer bought a tent and started looking for a place to camp.

In the current white-hot housing market, reasonably priced rentals have become increasingly hard to find.

In a recent story on the issue, The News reported the number of available family-size rentals fell last year with more than 200 rental houses sold while housing prices in Abbbotsford and Mission rose 30 per cent.

The area has the third lowest rental vacancy rate in Canada, at 0.8 per cent, well below the average for the country at 3.3 per cent.

A just-released survey ranks Abbotsford as one of the most expensive places for renters in Canada.

The “Canada Rent Report” was produced by the website, which operates a search map service for renters.

The report shows Abbotsford rents rose in May by 1.3 per cent for one bedrooms, bringing the median rent to $790, while two-bedroom units increased to a median of $1,100, an increase of 2.8 per cent.

Reimer, who has a chronic back injury that limits her ability to work, said most rental rates in Abbotsford are beyond her budget, making for a longer, more frustrating search.

“There’s a major war with rents going right now,” she said.

The place she and her daughter were in was about to be converted into a student residence and the landlord wasn’t willing to give them more time to find a place.

“We can’t afford a hotel and our friends don’t have room.”

Camping while seraching for homeMother and daughter found a campground to stay at the beginning of June near Yarrow which allows monthly stays and has bathrooms, hot showers and a security gate.

They stashed most of their possessions in two rented storage lockers while they lived out of a tent, cooking their meals on a portable camp stove sheltered by a tarp strung over a park picnic table.

“I’ve never been camping this long,” Reimer told The News.

“When it’s forced on you, it’s not fun. I just felt helpless and like I was a failure as a mom.” spokesperson Devin O’Brien stopped short of calling the current rental situation a crisis, but wasn’t especially optimistic about the immediate future.

“It’s tough to say whether the entire province is experiencing a rental crisis, as every city and town is unique in supply/demand dynamic,” O’Brien said.

“However, I do think the real estate market in Greater Vancouver is starting to show signs of a crisis.”

O’Brien expects rental vacancy rates in Greater Vancouver will remain very low, leading to continued upward pressure on rents.

Padmapper started up eight years ago as the first map-based rental search platform in the U.S. and soon expanded into Canada.

For it’s first rental survey in Canada, Padmapper said it analyzed hundreds of thousands of listings to identify the 25 most expensive cities for renters across the country.

Vancouver was the most expensive city for renters in B.C. and all of Canada, with a median one-bedroom rent of $1,700 a month, while the median two-bedroom rent was $2,780.

Among the other B.C. communities on the list, the next most expensive place to rent was Victoria (number three nationally) followed by Kelowna (number 11 nationally) and then Abbotsford (ranked number 20 among the 25 most expensive Canadian cities).

Reimer finally found a place to rent, about a week before she and April would have had to move out of the campground, because it was fully booked for the summer season.

“I was ecstatic,” Reimer said. “I’m just glad that we found a place.”

The place in Chilliwack was not advertised. Reimer got a tip from a friend.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COLUMN: We don’t need an election. But it’s 2020, so we’ll probably get one anyways.

There are only selfish reasons for the NDP to trigger an election this fall

Say ‘Hi’ to the mountains (and rain): The smoke is gone from the Fraser Valley, for now

Saturday’s Fraser Valley air quality forecast at ‘moderate risk,’ but morning showers leave skies clear

Chilliwack Agriculture Tour goes virtual during pandemic

Rather than bus tourists to local farms, tour stops will be posted on Facebook and Instagram

City of Chilliwack holding annual Hazardous Waste Day in early October

The one-day event is a chance to get rid of household things like pesticides and paint cans

Child sex offender relocated from Princeton after newspaper reveals his proximity to school

Offender convicted in 2019 of charges related to sex assault and child pornography

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Air quality advisory ends for the Lower Mainland

It had been in effect since Sept. 8

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

Most Read