Rental task force recommends B.C. government change allowable rent increase

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Currently, landlords are able to increase rent every year to cover the cost of inflation plus two per cent.

The task force wants to change that to inflation only, which would remove the automatic two per cent yearly increase.

However, landlords would still be able to apply for an additional increase if they can show that inflation costs would not cover maintenance and other costs incurred.

Tenants have grown more frustrated since it was announced this month that the maximum rental increase for 2019 will be 4.5 per cent, up from four per cent this year.

READ MORE: B.C. tenants to see the highest rent increase in 15 years

Based on the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s most recent assessment of the average rent for a Vancouver two-bedroom apartment — $1,550 per month — the hike would equate to an extra $837 per year.

In early September, Housing Minister Selina Robinson declined to comment on the status of the $400 annual renter’s grant the NDP promised in its 2017 election campaign.

READ MORE: B.C. housing minister ‘looking at’ reducing maximum allowable rent increases

But Sydney Ball with the Vancouver Tenants Union (VTU) said tenants don’t have time to wait for action on rent hikes, arguing that people on fixed incomes simply don’t have the extra money to pay a higher rent.

“I think now is the time for action from the B.C. government if they want to prove that they actually understand the housing crisis is a crisis for tenants and the homeless, and not a crisis for property owners and landlords,” she said.

“Something like the 4.5 per cent increase is so obviously wrong that it shouldn’t be hard for them to take action immediately.”

— With files from Simon Little