For the 2024/25 academic year, UBC student housing rates will be increasing between five and six per cent depending on the residence area and room type.
UBC indicated last year that there would be a gradual increase in student rent, ranging from approximately 5 to 5.5 per cent over the next three years. Subsequently, the rates are projected to revert to the standard levels of two to three per cent after the next three years.
Last year, UBC housing increased student rent between 3.5 and 8 per cent, causing additional financial stress for students looking for affordable housing on campus. The increase came following a two-year rent freeze instituted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Upon learning about the news, students took to the internet to voice their concerns regarding the rent hike. One student voiced their dismay that the email did not explicitly state a reason for the rent increase. Others pointed out that, cumulatively, students might be confronted with a 14 per cent rise in rent over the course of two years.
One student argued that the pandemic rent freeze should not be a factor in justifying this year’s increased rate because the newly opened residences had high set high rates right when they had opened.
This rent increase contrasts with the BC provincial government's recent announcement of a rent increase cap at 3.5 per cent for this year and 2 per cent in the previous year, a figure significantly lower than the inflation rate. Since student housing is not governed by B.C.'s Residential Tenancy Act, UBC retains the authority to implement increases in rental rates.
In a statement to The Ubyssey, Associate VP Student Housing & Community Services Andrew Parr reassured students with financial challenges that the university has support systems in place.
Parr noted that the university’s rates are below many other Canadian post-secondary institutions, including many in less expensive markets than Vancouver.
Comparing across first-year residences with meal plans, single rooms at UBC can cost up to $16,000 dollars. However, similar residences at universities like McGill and the University of Toronto can cost up to $20,000.
As per the UBC Housing Action Plan Policy, rental rates are set based on a variety of factors including local rental markets and operation costs. The policy also states there should be varying prices between older and newer residences and ensures that increases are capped at the annual consumer price index plus 2 per cent.
He wrote that, while the overall rate is rising by an average of five percent, the increments differ among various residences. The smallest increases are observed at 3.5 percent in family housing and older facilities, translating to an uptick of approximately $52 to $75 per month. Mid-level increases at 5 per cent will amount to $45 to $95 per month. Newer residence buildings may see increases of 6 per cent ranging from $46 to $95 per month.
Parr said that this range of increases allows for students to make decisions based on a variety of factors, including the cost.
“UBC is already the largest provider of student housing in Canada but despite this demand continues to exceed supply.”