THE Rental Housing Task Force has submitted its final report and recommendations to make B.C.’s rental housing system fairer by dealing with renovictions, making renting more secure, and improving enforcement of regulations and laws.
“We are pleased to be able to present our recommendations for consideration by government,” said Spencer Chandra Herbert, Chair of the Rental Housing Task Force and MLA for Vancouver-West End, who presented the report to Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
“Premier Horgan asked us to identify ways to improve security and fairness for renters and landlords throughout the province. After speaking with people in communities throughout B.C., we worked together to deliver balanced recommendations that will make our rental laws better and fairer for everyone involved.”
The task force identified 23 recommendations for potential new or amended legislation or regulation, and for actions that could modernize and improve the rental housing system for renters and landlords. The recommendations address safe and secure housing, strengthened enforcement and penalties, housing supply and process.
“We looked carefully at how all of the recommendations would impact both renters and landlords,” said Adam Olsen, member of the Rental Housing Task Force and MLA for Saanich North and the Islands. “It was very important that we provide fair and balanced recommendations, understanding that renters need strengthened protections, while landlords need to continue to be able to make key decisions regarding their rental property.”
The task force travelled to 11 communities around B.C. to hear from renters and landlords, as well as stakeholders. The task force also received more than 430 written submissions and more than 1,400 responses to its online survey.
“Throughout our engagement process, we discovered that people throughout B.C., whether in bigger centres like Vancouver or Kelowna, or rural communities like Revelstoke or Salt Spring Island, have been facing challenges with the current system for too long,” said Ronna-Rae Leonard, member of the Rental Housing Task Force and MLA for Courtenay-Comox. “There are unique concerns in each community, but we feel that our recommendations will make life better for everyone.”
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing will review the task force’s recommendations over the coming weeks to consider how they might be implemented and discuss the recommendations with key stakeholder organizations.
Prior to the final report, the task force released early recommendations. On September 26, the government took action on these early recommendations by setting the annual allowable rent increase to 2.5% to match inflation, with an exception to allow for modest increases where work has been done to improve rental properties.
Action on housing and ensuring fairness for tenants and landlords are shared priorities between government and the B.C. Green caucus, and are part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.
Premier John Horgan said: “Renting needs to be fair for both renters and for landlords. That’s why I asked the Rental Housing Task Force to examine our rental housing laws for ways to make them work better for everyone. I’m pleased with their work and I look forward to working with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to continue addressing the housing needs of British Columbians.”
Robinson said: “The Rental Housing Task Force members have done a thorough and thoughtful job of capturing the concerns and needs of British Columbians in the rental housing market who have been ignored for many years. We are already seeing improvements in services from our recent investments in the Residential Tenancy Branch. This report identifies ways we could further improve the rental housing system that many British Columbians rely on.”
* The Province has taken a number of steps to support renters and landlords including:
* enhancing the existing provincial Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) program and Rental Assistance Program (RAP), providing greater benefits to low-income seniors and family households renting in the private market;
* closing the fixed-term lease loophole and eliminating the geographic rent increase clause;
* strengthening protections for manufactured home park tenants;
* introducing stronger protection for tenants from renovations or demolitions;
* increasing strata fines to discourage unwanted short-term rental activity;
* providing $6.8 million over three years to the Residential Tenancy Branch to improve services. This funding has already had a positive impact, including reducing the average time it takes to reach an information officer on the phone by 84%, from almost 45 minutes to eight minutes.
* Introducing rental zoning legislation to give local governments the ability to preserve and increase the overall rental supply.
* The task force was appointed by Premier Horgan in April 2018 with Chandra Herbert as Chair, and Olsen and Leonard as members.