A furnished three-bedroom apartment in Port Moody has hit the rental market for $6,050 a month, or $5.08 a square foot, but the city says it’s powerless to intervene.
Vancouver-based developer Onni Group is offering 15 furnished suites at 302 Morrissey Road in the city’s Suter Brook neighbourhood for periods ranging from 30 days to more than six months. They come in four different floorplans.
According to evefurnishedapartments.com, a website set up by Onni to advertise units the company holds at projects in Port Moody and Colwood on Vancouver Island, each furnished apartment includes:
- a fully equipped kitchen with premium stainless-steel appliances as well as cookware
- custom soft-close cabinetry
- queen or king-sized bed with custom mattress
- full-size in-suite washer/dryer
- bath linens
- blinds on all windows
- wireless internet
- cable TV
An additional 11 market-rate units are available unfurnished.
Rents for furnished units in Port Moody start at $4,650 a month for a one bedroom, one bathroom apartment to $6,050 a month for an 1,190 sq. ft. suite with three bedrooms and two bathrooms.
By comparison, in Colwood, junior two bedroom suites with one bathroom start at $3,750 a month, while a two-bedroom plus den apartment with two bathrooms starts at $4,900 a month.
The building in Port Moody also contains 50 affordable rental apartments that were part of a housing agreement with the city that was finalized in Oct. 2018 to allow the developer to increase the density of its last parcel of land in its Suter Brook project from 290 residential units to 512, most of them in two 26-storey towers. Council approved the project in May 2018.
At the time, then-Mayor Mike Clay described the 76 rental units being offered by Onni as “the best opportunity we’ve had in my 13 years on council.”
But on May 24, Coun. Steve Milani, who joined council during the 2018 civic elections, expressed alarm at the expensive units.
“It’s not what the council of the day expected to come forward,” he said. “How can council prevent this luxury furnished suites issue from happening again?”
It can’t, said Port Moody’s general manager of community development, Kate Zanon.
While municipalities can formulate housing agreements that address rules for below-market units or those being offered in a rent-to-own program, Zanon said “we can’t control the maximum a unit will rent for.”
Zanon said developers or property managers are free to rent market units at whatever rate “the market will bear.”
Onni is likely renting the furnished apartments to people with “some sort of arrangement with their employer,” said Mayor Rob Vagramov.
“We know they’re not going to families,” he added.
Vagramov said the city’s experience with the building could serve as an impetus to find ways it can be more specific about the types of market rental suites developers are building
“It would be really unfortunate if more developers opt to go the ultra-mega luxury rental route,” he said.
Onni also offers furnished luxury apartments for short-term rentals under its Level brand in three buildings in Vancouver, as well as other locations like Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle.