Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Selina Robinson, Andrew Sakamoto of the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre and David Hutniak, CEO of LandlordBC, announce new rent restrictions at the B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. to give renters a break on deposits, rent increases

Short-term lease loophole to be closed, Selina Robinson says

The NDP government is moving to give B.C.’s 1.5 million renters a break, making it easier for them to get damage deposits back and increasing penalties for landlords who take advantage of a tight urban rental market.

Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Selina Robinson introduced legislation Thursday that is expected to address a promise that was made by the previous B.C. Liberal government but not delivered before the spring election.

The NDP also promised a $400-a-year rebate for renters in their spring election platform, but Finance Minister Carole James has said that will have to wait for the minority government’s first full budget in February.

RELATED: Lack of budget help for B.C. renters ‘problematic’

The legislation is designed to plug a loophole in B.C.’s rental housing restrictions that allows landlords to demand additional rent increases by signing short-term leases with tenants. It also contains measures to protect tenants in mobile home parks, which are not covered by the Residential Tenancy Act that governs apartment and house rentals.

The current law restricts annual rent increases to no more than two per cent plus the rate of inflation, a maximum of 3.7 per cent for increases that take effect in 2017. Some landlords have been signing fixed-term leases as short as a year, then using the “vacate clause” to force the tenant out and return at much higher rent, Robinson said.

She said the new legislation, expected to pass by the end of November, will be retroactive for existing tenancy agreements, so the “vacate clause” could not be used.

Under the new legislation, “the rent [rate] stays with the tenant, so when the fixed term ends, it rolls into month-to-month unless the tenant chooses to end it,” Robinson said.

Andrew Sakamoto, executive director of the Tenant Resource Advisory Centre, said the problem of vacate clauses and excessive rent increases is no longer confined to Metro Vancouver and Victoria, but his office has received calls from as far away as Kitimat where rental vacancy rates are low. TRAC receives about 8,000 calls a year from tenants seeking assistance.

David Hutniak, CEO of LandlordBC, said he supports the changes, because a few bad landlords have hurt the industry’s reputation. He said he is relieved that Robertson is not moving to reduce the allowable annual rent increase, because that would deter investors from building new rental housing capacity.

The legislation also allows for the names and penalties of landlords and tenants to be published.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

North Island College hosting nursing info session

Info sessions will take place Monday, Jan. 27 at Port Alberni and Campbell River campuses

Photographer captures Port Alberni personalities in black and white portraits

Meet John Douglas, Courtney Naesgaard in double exhibit Jan. 18 at Rollin Art Centre

Alberni Valley Community Foundation opens grant application process for 2020

Nearly $30K available for Port Alberni-based charities

Stray cat with ‘serious burns’ recovering at Alberni SPCA

The BC SPCA’s Alberni-Clayoquot branch is asking members of the public for help with medical costs

B.C. government puts kibosh on drag racing at Alberni Valley Regional Airport

AVDRA was hopeful for a three-year temporary contract to race at the airport

After cashing in on QB gambles, Chiefs and 49ers to clash in Super Bowl

KC beats Tennessee, San Francisco dispatches Green Bay to reach NFL title game

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in downtown Smithers

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

UBC, Iranian-Canadian community create memorial scholarship in honour of victims

The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

Most Read