BC government says rent increase over baby is “bizarre,” but stops short of helping
After her rent went up 20% following the birth of her child, a Vancouver mom’s struggle with her landlord got a muted response from the BC Housing Ministry.
New parent and renter Victoria Walsh has started a petition to call for change to what she calls a loophole that landlords are exploiting for profit on the backs of new parents.
According to Walsh, her landlord notified her that her rent would increase by 20% the following month due to an “additional occupant,” Walsh’s infant daughter.
“I created this petition after my own experience with a rent increase of this kind,” Walsh told Daily Hive Urbanized. “Since then, I’ve been struggling to navigate the legality of his claim and the dispute resolution process with the Residential Tenancy Branch.”
According to the Ministry, it’s looking at legislation and regulations regarding additional occupants.
For now, in BC, tenancy agreements can include a term that states rent varies depending on the number of occupants in the rental unit.
“The Act does not identify any exceptions to this provision. As such, as long as there is a term in a tenancy agreement stating that rent increases when there are additional occupants, the rent increase is permitted,” the Ministry told Daily Hive Urbanized.
“It seems bizarre that having a child would be understood by anyone as being an event that would increase your rent or cost you your home,” said the Ministry.
“In cases like this, where tenants and landlords are having a dispute and cannot come to an agreement on their own, they can apply for dispute resolution through the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB),” said the Ministry.
The Ministry encourages landlords and tenants to establish relationships built on transparency and trust.
Walsh could have some other options available.
“If a tenant feels their landlord does not calculate a rent increase for additional occupants correctly (e.g., they did not calculate the 20% increase properly), they could apply to the RTB for dispute resolution on the basis that the landlord breached a term of the tenancy agreement,” said the Ministry.
For renters in BC, it’s important to get everything in writing and thoroughly read your tenancy agreement. Sometimes, landlords make changes or adjustments to the standard tenancy agreement, so be sure to read it carefully and know what landlords can and cannot do before you sign.