With some 20,000 complaints waiting at the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) each year between renters and landlords, the government of BC is promising faster action in dealing with issues thanks to a big funding boost.
BC’s Minister of Housing Ravi Kahlon announced Wednesday that $15.6 million would go towards hiring 50 staff to assist the branch in addressing the backlog.
“This will alleviate financial impacts to landlords and of course address precarious housing situation for tenants,” Kahlon said.
The three-year investment also promises to double the size of the Compliance and Enforcement Unit (CEU) which investigates complaints and takes action on repeat or serious residential tenancy offences, such as illegal evictions.
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However, when it comes to hiring, Kahlon admits that the province — like the private sector — is anticipating finding qualified workers may pose a challenge.
Which is why he encouraged the jobs will be remote.
“Allowing people to work from home more often means that we’re going to be able to access a talent pool not just in Vancouver and Victoria but now throughout the province. And so I’m hopeful that because of this shift, we’re going to be able to get the talent we need to ensure that the things that we want to get done in a timely manner will get done,” he said.
Adding that the jobs will be posted soon.
However, when asked about the timeline for the long-awaited renters’ rebate, the minister was not as specific on when that money would be coming.
Former BC Premier John Horgan promised a $400-per-year rebate during his 2017 campaign, and while there has been talk of that coming in 2023, Kahlon says when and how much is still being determined.
Bad news for many who could use some extra cash this time of year.
“There’s a whole host of pieces we’re putting together with our housing strategy. As you know, the Ministry of Finance… they’re doing the important work, ensuring that we can provide support for people during these challenging times,” he said.
The federal government is providing a one-time, tax-free $500 top-up to eligible Canadians through the Canada Housing Benefit. Applications opened on December 12.
With files from Megan Devlin and Isabelle Docto