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Eye-popping rents for a furnished apartment in Port Moody — but the city says there’s nothing it can do about it

Furnished apartments in new Suter Brook building rent for as much as $6,050 a month
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A typical living room in one of Onni Group's Eve furnished apartments for rent in its Suter Brook development in Port Moody.

The City of Port Moody says it is powerless to do anything about some eye-popping rental rates at a new building recently completed in the city’s Suter Brook neighbourhood.

Vancouver-based developer Onni Group is advertising furnished suites in the building for rates starting 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.

According to the company’s website, 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

The website lists 15 of the building’s 26 market rental apartments available as fully furnished units for periods ranging from 30 days to more than six months. They come in four different floorplans.

The building 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. The project was approved by council 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 last Tuesday (May 24), Coun. Steve Milani, who was elected later that year, expressed alarm about 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.

She said while municipalities can formulate housing agreements that address rules for below-market units or those being offered in a rent-to-own program, “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.”

Mayor Rob Vagramov suggested Onni is likely renting the furnished apartments to people with “some sort of arrangement with their employer,” adding, “we know they’re not going to families.”

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.

The Tri-City News has reached out to Onni for more information about the furnished rentals, The company has similar suites in a building in Colwood, near Victoria. There, 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.

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.