RENTERS and landlords in B.C. will soon benefit from more timely and efficient supports and services as government takes action to speed up and strengthen residential tenancy dispute resolution, the province said on Wednesday.
“Renters and landlords have been clear that the current residential tenancy dispute resolution process isn’t working fast enough to address their needs,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing. “We hear you and we are taking action to speed up service and strengthen enforcement to address things like repeat or serious offences like illegal evictions, so renters and landlords can get the fair treatment and timely support they deserve.”
Government is increasing the Residential Tenancy Branch’s (RTB) operating budget and staffing by 40%, adding as many as 50 new full-time employees to cut waiting times and doubling the size of the Compliance and Enforcement Unit (CEU). The CEU was launched in 2019 to investigate complaints and take action on repeat or serious residential tenancy offences, such as illegal evictions, and levy monetary penalties, if necessary.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and overall demand from more people moving to B.C., the RTB has received a high volume of applications. Waiting times for dispute resolution remain long. This new investment of as much as $15.6 million over three years is a significant injection of new staff and resources to improve service delivery and speed up waiting times for hearings.
“As tenants grapple with the ongoing housing and eviction crises, it is essential that they can access and enforce their rights at the RTB,” said Robert Patterson, lawyer, Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre (TRAC). “This additional support for the RTB will mean that tenants whose landlords are ignoring the law can have their urgent concerns addressed sooner. TRAC hopes that adding more staff will mean not only that tenants’ cases will be heard more quickly, but also that arbitrators will have the time and support they need to give well-reasoned decisions. We also applaud the government’s investment in the Compliance and Enforcement Unit, which has been an incredible resource for tenants, by preventing illegal evictions and taking meaningful action against bad-faith landlords.”
Doubling the size and increasing the capacity of the CEU will improve its ability to address serious issues and ensure people are getting fair treatment. It will also allow the CEU to intervene earlier and prevent the need for hearings in the first place, and also take on more cases, which will reduce matters that escalate into multiple requests to the RTB for arbitration.
“Not only will this new investment alleviate financial concerns for landlords by allowing them to solve rental disputes faster, but it will also ensure that their unit is available to provide housing to people in B.C. at a time when it’s needed most,” said David Hutniak, CEO, LandlordBC. “We are pleased to see this government take action to resolve a process they recognize isn’t working. We look forward to continuing to work alongside them to create better solutions for landlords and renters in our province.”
In addition to hiring more staff, the RTB will continue to revitalize its dispute resolution processes to make those processes more user-focused and easier to navigate. This includes an increase in early intervention to resolve disputes without a hearing. The RTB is in the process of making enhancements to its online service portal, which has sped up the application process.
The Province said that this funding builds on actions it has taken to better protect renters since 2017, including capping rent increases below inflation at 2% in 2023, banning illegal renovictions, launching Canada’s first provincewide rent bank, closing the fixed-term lease loophole, ending all strata rental-restriction bylaws and limiting age-restriction bylaws in strata housing with the exception of 55 and older.
For information about the Residential Tenancy Branch, visit:
Facts about the Residential Tenancy Branch
Each year, the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) receives approximately 200,000 calls requesting information or assistance and more than 20,000 applications for dispute resolution.
* The RTB’s applications for dispute resolution have increased 21% since 2018.
* In 2022, the branch received an average of 1,811 dispute resolution applications per month compared to 1,496 per month between 2018 and 2020.
The RTB has 118 full-time-equivalent employees.
* With the hiring of as many as 50 new employees, the staffing contingent will increase by 42%.
The RTB’s 2022-23 budget is $11.533 million.
* This investment means the budget will increase by approximately $15.6 million during the next three years.