After the recent approval of a 4.5% allowable rent increase in BC next year, followed by the release of preliminary recommendations on how to tackle rental issues across the province, Housing Minister Selina Robinson along with Premier John Horgan responded to the recommendations – put forth by a provincially-appointed rental housing task force – on Wednesday.
The province announced that effective January. 1, 2019, the annual allowable rent increase will be 2.5%, instead of the previously announced 4.5%
“It’s simply not sustainable for renters, many of whom are on fixed incomes, to see their rent increase by more than inflation each and every year,” said Horgan. “We have to eliminate the risk of such huge increases for renters.”
The premier said this new approach “strikes a balance between giving relief to renters while encouraging people to maintain their rental properties.”
The previous formula, set in 2004, allowed annual rent increases of 2% plus inflation.
“We recognize supply is key to bringing down rental costs in the long term, but renters have told us they are hurting and need help today,” said Robinson. “That’s why we are taking careful steps to address the housing crisis and ease the pressure on renters, while also making sure that landlords have the tools they need to continue to invest in their rental properties.”
The government said that the Residential Tenancy Branch will work closely with landlord advocacy groups on expanded circumstances under which landlords could apply for an additional rent increase to reflect the costs of maintaining their rental properties.
In releasing the recommendations, Spencer Chandra Herbert, RHTF chair and MLA for Vancouver-West End, said the task force “listened to the voices of British Columbians concerned about affordability, reviewed how other provinces set rent and have a solution.”
The RHTF he added, “heard time and again that renters are struggling to pay yearly maximum rent increases, while basic repairs and building maintenance are left undone.” Taken together, “these changes will make rent more affordable for British Columbians, while also helping ensure needed repairs are completed to maintain and improve rental housing.”
The MLA said the recommendations “follow the approach of Ontario and Manitoba and will keep rent more affordable while ensuring rental homes are maintained and improved.”