THE Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Selina Robinson, announced on Wednesday that it is listening to the concerns of renters and taking action on an early recommendation from B.C.’s Rental Housing Task Force by cutting the annual allowable rent increase by 2%, limiting it to inflation.
That means that effective January 1, 2019, the annual allowable rent increase will be 2.5%.
“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 Premier John Horgan. “We have to eliminate the risk of such huge increases for renters. Our 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.
As a result of eliminating the additional 2% increase, people living in a $1,200 per month apartment (average rent in B.C.) could save up to $288 in 2019 over what they could have paid under the old formula. People in an average two-bedroom apartment in Vancouver could have faced paying up to $432 more over the course of the year.
“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 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.
“Our Rental Housing Task Force members have heard time and again that renters are struggling to pay yearly maximum rent increases, while basic repairs and building maintenance are left undone,” said Spencer Chandra Herbert, Rental Housing Task Force chair and Premier’s Advisor on Residential Tenancy. “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 Rental Housing Task Force is made up of
* Spencer Chandra Herbert, MLA for Vancouver-West End;
* Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands; and
* Ronna-Rae Leonard, MLA for Courtney-Comox.
They have conducted in-person and online consultations about renting in B.C. and will be releasing further recommendations on ways to modernize and improve B.C. residential tenancy laws and policies later this year.
Making life more affordable is a shared priority between government and the B.C. Green Party caucus, and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.
* The new rent-increase limits are part of the many actions the B.C. government is taking to help renters.
* British Columbia’s 30-point housing plan includes a record $7 billion over 10 years to create new affordable rental housing throughout the province.
* The Province has closed a fixed-term lease loophole that resulted in people being unfairly evicted and stopped geographic rent increases that were unfairly driving up rents in some neighbourhoods.
* Starting this month, the Province expanded the eligibility and increased the assistance to low-income families and seniors through the Rental Assistance Program and the Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters.
* The speculation tax also encourages people with multiple homes in urban areas to rent them out, instead of letting them sit vacant.