B.C. Rental Housing Task Force recommends cutting annual rent increase cap

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The move would do away with the current calculation that allows landlords to charge their tenants annual inflationary increase plus an additional two per cent top-up.

The BC NDP is being urged by a government task force to limit rent increases to the cost of living.

The move, recommended by the B.C. Rental Housing Task Force, would do away with the current calculation that allows landlords to charge their tenants annual inflationary increase plus an additional two per cent top-up.

Earlier this month, the Residential Tenancy Branch set the maximum allowable rent increase for 2019 at 4.5 per cent, the greatest jump since 2004. Coming a time when vacancy rates are at an all-time low and rents are already high, the news caused a stir on social media.

The task force is recommending to government that they change the maximum rent increase formula, from the current formula of inflation plus two per cent to inflation only (2.5 per cent in 2019).

To ensure landlords can afford to maintain their buildings, they will be able to apply for additional rent increases to cover the cost of work they have done, said Spencer Chandra-Herbert, task force chair and NDP MLA for Vancouver-West End.

“Our recommendations follow the approach of Ontario and Manitoba and will keep rent more affordable while ensuring rental homes are maintained and improved,” Chandra Herbert said.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is expected to make a decision on the task force’s recommendations before Oct. 1.

Since being appointed in April, the three-member task force held public consultations and reviewed existing B.C. laws as well as approaches in other jurisdictions.

For more than a decade, Ontario and Manitoba have limited rent increases to the inflation rate.

“We listened to the voices of British Columbians concerned about affordability, reviewed how other provinces set rent and have a solution,” said Chandra Herbert. “Renters were clear that rent increases that far outstripped cost-of-living increases were becoming increasingly unaffordable, and landlords were clear they needed help to maintain their properties.”

The others members of the task force included Ronna-Rae Leonard, NDP MLA for Courtenay-Comox, and Adam Olsen, Green MLA for Saanich North and the Islands.

Green Leader Andrew Weaver said commended the work of task force, which he said represents the best of minority government.

“We have two different parties that have come together on an issue of shared interest and have developed solutions for government to consider. This is exactly the type of collaboration that we need more of in our political system,” Weaver said in a statement.