BC's Rental Housing Task Force recommends slashing rental increases

Sep 24 2018, 4:51 pm

Following what it says was “months” of online and in-person consultation in communities throughout the province, BC’s Rental Housing Task Force (RHTF) says it is recommending the provincial government change the annual allowable rent increase formula to “ease pressure” on renters.

“We listened to the voices of British Columbians concerned about affordability, reviewed how other provinces set rent and have a solution,” said Spencer Chandra Herbert, RHTF chair and MLA for Vancouver-West End.

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.”

These recommendations include:

  • Changing the maximum rent increase formula, from the current formula of inflation plus 2%, to inflation only (2.5% for 2019), which would remove the automatic 2% yearly increase;
  • Giving landlords the ability to apply for an additional increase “if they can show the formula would not cover maintenance and other costs incurred.”

“We believe this strikes the balance between affordability for renters and the need to maintain properties,” he said. “People were clear to us – they understand costs do go up, but they also need to be able to afford them. Our solution proposed today does that.”

The task force, he said, noted that the annual allowable rent increase formula, put in place by the previous government in 2004, was a “frequent topic of concern” during the public engagement process.

“Whether they are renters or rental housing providers, people are looking for greater fairness and greater balance in residential tenancy policies in our province,” said task force member Ronna-Rae Leonard, MLA for Courtenay-Comox. “We’ve made these recommendations after careful consideration and look forward to a response from cabinet later this month.”

A decision will be made on these early recommendations from the Rental Housing Task Force before Oct. 1, 2018.

The RHTF intends to release a full-recommendations report with other ways to improve residential tenancy for people in BC, later this fall.

“We decided at this stage that we wanted to provide this recommendation – there’s many more recommendations that we’ve discussed and that will be coming out in the future,” said task force member Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands.

Asked about the perceived “rush” to release this first round of recommendations, Chandra Herbert said the RHTF “needed to give the government the time to act in order to bring this in before next year.”

He noted that if the government acts on these recommendations this week, for example, “the 4.5% rental increase number that was announced earlier this month could be changed to our recommendation of 2.5%.”

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