British Columbia’s annual allowable rent increase for 2020 has been set at 2.6%, the province’s annual rate of inflation.
However, in making the announcement on Wednesday, the government noted this increase is actually 2% lower than it would have been, prior to the rental increase cap introduced at the beginning of 2019.
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“Renters need secure housing they can afford,” said BC Housing Minister Selina Robinson.
“That’s why we removed the additional 2% above inflation that the old government allowed for rent increases since 2004.”
Under the old formula — which could have increased rents by up to 4.6% this year alone — she furthered, “renters would have seen a rent hike of more than 9% over 2019 and 2020.”
The government said it is also taking steps to strengthen protections for renters and limit evictions related to renovations. These steps include increased compensation for bad-faith evictions, strengthened requirements for eviction notifications, and new Residential Tenancy Branch guidelines in July 2019.
These guidelines will include:
- The limited types of major repairs that truly require vacancy;
- The good-faith requirement;
- Necessary permits required by landlords;
- Case law regarding renters’ ability to sustain tenancies during renovations.
“Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre (TRAC) supports the provincial government’s decision to amend the annual rent increase formula,” said Andrew Sakamoto, executive director, TRAC. “Although more can still be done to improve rental affordability in BC, reducing rent increases by 2% [down from 4.6%] is a step in the right direction.”
When the rent increase cap was lowered in 2019, the Rental Housing Task Force also recommended that the provincial government work with landlords on revising the process for applying for limited additional rent increases to ensure they can pay for necessary maintenance and repairs to their buildings, and preserve good-quality housing for people throughout the province.
The previous process for seeking additional rent increases only gave landlords the opportunity to recover investments for unforeseen repairs or maintenance. The government said it has worked with landlord groups on a new way to help ensure important capital investments are made.
Landlords will be able to apply to recover costs incurred in the previous 18 months for major capital improvements. The new system is expected to be ready for summer 2020.
“The work we’ve been doing… on a new process is unfolding in a manner that, in our view, will result in a process that will be fair and transparent for tenants, while providing landlords… a workable solution,” said David Hutniak, LandlordBC’s CEO.