NEW Democrats are calling for continued stability for renters as the B.C. Liberals talk about adjusting rent controls.
“Rent control in B.C. is there to provide some predictability for tenants, and this predictability is really important for people as they set their budgets and decide where to settle their families,” said David Eby, New Democrat spokesperson for housing.
“For Minister Coleman to throw all that into question by suggesting he might remove or weaken what little rent control exists in this province, shows he doesn’t understand the needs of B.C.’s renters.”
Housing Minister Rich Coleman told media last week he would soon be having discussions about increasing the annual limit on rent increases, which is currently 2.5 per cent. He justified the suggestion by suggesting that rent control prevented landlords from recovering costs from increasing utility bills and property taxes.
But Eby noted that in British Columbia, landlords are free to raise rent between tenants, or following renovations. They are even able to apply to raise the rent above the allowable yearly limit if their expenses go up.
Rather than eliminating or weakening rent control, leading to housing insecurity and unsustainable cost hikes for people across the province, Eby said Minister Coleman should be giving serious consideration to recent data showing the strain that renters are feeling.
“A study by the B.C. Non-Profit Housing Association found a full quarter of renters in this province are putting 50 per cent or more of their income towards the roof over their heads,” said Eby.
“At least the existing formula creates stability for tenants, while also recognizing increasing costs for landlords. Taking away or weakening rent controls in a market like this, where thousands are already struggling to make ends meet, is not just poor policy, it’s a cruel way to bring in the holiday season for many B.C. families.
“There are a lot of conversations that we should be having around increasing the availability and affordability of housing in this province – eroding rent controls is not one of them.”