Maximum allowable rent increase set at 1.4% for 2021

BRITISH Columbia’s maximum annual allowable rent increase for 2021 is set at 1.4%, which is less than half of what it would have been prior to changes made by the Province in 2018.

Prior to that change, the previous government allowed rent increases to be the rate of inflation, plus an additional 2%. By removing the extra 2%, renters living in a $1,320-per-month apartment, which is the cost of the average two-bedroom rental unit in B.C., will save up to $317 next year, and people living in an average two-bedroom apartment in Vancouver will save about $420.

For manufactured-home park tenancies, the rate is 1.4%, plus a proportional amount for the change in local government levies and regulated utility fees.

This system ensures property owners are able to make investments and repairs to maintain safe housing, while ensuring rent increases are moderate and predictable.

B.C. landlords can increase rent only once per year and must provide tenants with three full months’ notice using the correct notice of rent increase form.

To protect renters who have experienced income loss during COVID-19, the Province is continuing to maintain rent freezes until December 2020. Any tenant who received a Notice of Increase for 2020 that would have gone into effect after March 18, 2020, should continue to pay their current rent until November 30, 2020.

Since 2018, the Province has taken a variety of actions to make the residential tenancy system fairer and work better for everyone. This includes:

* changing the laws to provide stronger protection for renters facing eviction as a result of renovations or demolitions by increasing compensation for bad-faith evictions, strengthening requirements for eviction notifications, allowing more time to find alternative housing and giving renters the right of refusal to return to a unit following renovations;

* updating tenancy laws to close what is known as the fixed-term lease loophole, eliminating the geographic rent increase clause and better protecting people living in manufactured home parks;

* investing $6.8 million in new funding for the Residential Tenancy Branch to reduce wait times for tenancy disputes, hire new staff to reduce wait times and address backlog, and create a new compliance unit to take action against serious offenders; and

* improving the Rental Assistance Program and Shelter Aid For Elderly Renters to give families and seniors on fixed incomes a break from rising costs.