It is quite challenging to find a building to buy into where one can truly feel ‘guaranteed’ they will always have the right to rent out their unit in. It isn’t impossible though, and there are also market niches one can buy in within which it is very unlikely to find rental restrictions (eg, downtown towers). Rental bylaws within a building can be changed by a 75% majority of voting owners at any of a strata’s Annual General Meetings or Special General Meetings, meaning there is truly no ‘guarantee’, per se.
The ‘new’ condo question: even ‘first time’ owners, IE original purchasers within a new building, do not necessarily have this guarantee anymore (as they did prior to January 1, 2010). Developers selling new buildings since this date must now enter an ‘end date’ on the Rental Disclosure Statement, thereby defining the end-date that first-time owners can retain the right to rent out their unit until (past practice by developers was often to leave end-date ‘blank’, thereby original owners could rent in perpetuity). Since January 1, 2010, the end-date for rentability on the RDS of a new developement is now typically 5 years from the date of the first owner’s completion, but can vary. After this date, all owners will become subject, within 1yr, to whatever rental restrictions may have been created by the strata.
So, options would be:
1- Buy into a new building with an RDS that has a very long ‘right to rent’ period, IE a length that you would feel would survive your ownership of the unit (and/or that is in an area of higher renter-to-owner ratios)
2- Looking for buildings in areas that would have more investment-property biased owners, or high ratios of tenants-to-owners. EG, downtown, Yaletown, etc..
3- Researching buildings that allow ‘Rentals with restrictions’ and assessing risk factors by studying any bylaw votes in recent years, history of restrictions, etc..
4- Buying in a building that, though not in a ‘renter-dense’ area, has a long history of no restrictions and no (or minimal) attempts to restrict them.
In a nutshell, you’ll likely need to do some sifting, and it will be virtually impossible to get a ‘guarantee’… however, it is completely possible to find options where the risk should be acceptably minimal. This is definitely a quest in which a knowledgeable and ‘strata-savvy’ realtor would be of great benefit: please note that all members of The Real Results Group focus primarily on the strata markets of Vancouver.