Premier appoints Rental Housing Task Force to improve tenancy laws

Premier John Horgan

PREMIER John Horgan has appointed a Rental Housing Task Force that will advise on how to improve security and fairness for renters and landlords throughout the province.

The task force will be headed up by Vancouver-West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert, who will serve as the Premier’s advisor on residential tenancy.

“Our laws haven’t kept up with the changing housing market, and that has left both renters and landlords vulnerable,” said Horgan on Tuesday. “This task force will connect with British Columbians, review laws in other jurisdictions and deliver the first full review of our residential tenancy laws in 16 years.”

“We have made many significant improvements to our tenancy laws in the last eight months, but we have more to do,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “This task force will give British Columbians throughout the province an opportunity to offer their ideas on how our laws can be updated to protect renters and give landlords the confidence to put more homes on the market.”

The Rental Housing Task Force will work throughout the summer to better understand what further changes may be needed to modernize B.C.’s tenancy laws, including:

* Consulting the public, landlords, tenants and stakeholders on their views and experiences with current tenancy laws and processes within the rental industry;

* Identifying options to improve security and fairness for both renters and landlords, while addressing the challenges of affordability;

* A review of the existing laws and how they apply to different housing models; and

* A review of innovative approaches in other jurisdictions.

Herbert will work alongside MLAs Adam Olsen and Ronna-Rae Leonard, who will make up the remaining two positions on the three-member task force.

The task force will report findings and make recommendations to Horgan and Robinson in fall 2018.

Chandra Herbert said: “One-and-a-half million British Columbians rent. For too long, issues of security, affordability and fairness have been ignored, with the voices of renters and landlords sidelined. We need to bring renters, landlords and all those who care about rental housing to the table to improve our tenancy laws so they work better for everyone. It’s time.”

Olsen noted: “Renters across B.C. have been hit particularly hard by our housing crisis. We must ensure we are doing all we can to help renters find affordable accommodation, and to support homeowners to rent their properties securely. I’m excited to work with this task force to ensure we are exploring innovative solutions to address the rental crisis.”

Leonard added: “For far too long, people in our communities have felt that renting is not a secure and predictable housing option. Modernizing B.C.’s tenancy laws will provide more fairness for everyone and ensure that landlords and renters are able to plan for the future.”


Quick Facts:

* The Rental Housing Task Force will build on the improvements the provincial government has made since July 2017.

* To help renters, the Province is providing $116 million over three years to expand eligibility and increase the average benefits under the Rental Assistance Program (RAP) and Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER).
* More than 35,000 households will benefit from the enhancements, including 3,200 newly eligible seniors and families.

* The average payment for RAP recipients will go up by approximately $800 a year.

* The average payment for SAFER recipients will go up by approximately $930 a year.

* These enhancements will begin September 1.

* The B.C. government has strengthened protection from unfair rent increases by closing the fixed-term lease loophole and eliminating the geographic rent increase clause:

* The Province increased funding for the Residential Tenancy Branch to reduce wait times for tenancy disputes and to establish a new compliance unit to take action against landlords and tenants who are repeat or serious offenders:

* The Province is also investing $1.1 billion over 10 years to upgrade and improve existing rental housing throughout B.C. This investment will fund seismic and fire-safety upgrades and essential repairs and maintenance, making homes safer and more comfortable for residents.