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.

Just Posted

Chilliwack Chiefs take gut punch from Merritt in 5-2 loss

Trying to hold off Langley and Surrey for the Mainland division’s second seed, Chilliwack faltered.

Freezing temperatures expected in Lower Mainland

Snowfall warning ends, but surge or icy air to continue

Chilliwack’s history celebrated during Heritage Week

Heritage Chilliwack partnering with Atchelitz and more for open house

Park and trails consultation sessions kick off on Feb. 24

City staff will be talking about some current parks projects like green gyms for example

Chilliwack welcomes Séan McCann, legendary East Coast crooner

The founding member of Great Big Sea is visiting Chilliwack during his North American solo tour

The Chilliwack Symphony Orchestra & Chorus joins with other choirs to create Voices, a celebration of BC composers

The Richmond Chorus and Chilliwack’s Children and Youth Choirs join the CSO for a night of regional music

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

BCHL Today: Powell River stuns Vernon and BCHL grads lead Team Canada

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

One dead after targeted shooting in Coquitlam

IHIT also asking for information about a car on fire nearby

Reports of money laundering in B.C. real estate ‘troubling’: attorney general

News report alleges people connected to fentanyl trade are using B.C. real estate to launder money

OLYMPIC ROUNDUP: Two more medals for Canada, and men’s hockey loss

Team Canada shines on the speed skating track, but fall short against the Czechs in hockey

Heavy snowfall warning continues

Kelowna - Expect snow in the Okanagan, Southern Interior and the Kootenays

RCMP member challenges court to prevent further disciplinary action

RCMP member launches appeal to avoid new hearing over alleged harassment

Port of Vancouver program examines impact of marine noise on local whales

Man-made noises can interfere with orcas’ ability to hunt and communicate with other pod members

Most Read