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

Cranbrook’s India Sherret nominated to Canadian Olympic ski cross team

Local skier set to compete at PyeongChang games in February, week after first World Cup medal

Fuel treatment underway in Cranbrook Community Forest

Project manager urges public to avoid area while fuel treatment work is being completed.

Dog stomped by deer on Norton Avenue

Udi, 15, had to be put down

Adams celebrated as 2017 Citizen of the Year

Gala dinner recognizes Mike Adams for his community volnteerism.

New slant on the next play

Cranbrook Community Theatre tries something new with next play

VIDEO: Fuel truck and train collide in B.C. causing massive fire

More emergency crews are still arriving on scene of a massive fire at the Port Coquitlam rail yard.

Back to work: U.S. government shutdown ends after Democrats relent

Short-term spending measure means both sides could see another shutdown stalemate in three weeks

Man lives despite malfunctioning defibrillator at B.C. arena

A middle-aged man went into cardiac arrest after at game at Pitt Meadows Arena last Wednesday.

Cause of Northern B.C. seaplane crash released

TSB releases report on seaplane crash during a water landing in 2016 near First Nations community

Vancouver police crack down on pop-up pot vendors

Officers raided merchants’ tables on Robson Square late Sunday

Dryer incident at Teck Elkview Operations

Locals report hearing loud bang

Bell Media, NFL take appeal over Super Bowl ad rules to top court

At issue is a ban on substituting American ads with Canadian ones during the game’s broadcast

Crown seeks 4.5 years jail for B.C. woman convicted of counselling tax evasion

Debbie Anderson the latest from group to face jail for teaching debunked ‘natural person’ theory

Most Read