A new compliance unit for B.C.’s Residential Tenancy Branch puts teeth into enforcement for landlords or tenants who repeatedly violate B.C.’s laws, Housing Minister Selina Robinson says.
Education about things like scheduling landlord visits and allowing for renovations can solve many of the issues, Robinson said Wednesday. The enforcement unit adds a second stage to ensure compliance that includes fines of up to $5,000 per day for landlords who won’t comply with repair orders or other major changes.
Scott McGregor heads the new landlord-tenant enforcement office #bcpoli #bcleg pic.twitter.com/0Os9u8WvAQ
— Tom Fletcher (@tomfletcherbc) May 8, 2019
“We have all heard too many stories about broken relationships – renters living in substandard housing because they were too scared to complain in a highly competitive rental market, landlords being left with thousands of dollars worth of damage when renters move out,” Robinson said. “These broken relationships are symptoms of the same problem, a rental housing market that isn’t working for landlords or for renters.”
Robinson introduced the head of the Residential Tenancy Branch compliance and enforcement unit, Scott McGregor, who explained that his office is a second line of defence if branch hearings and orders do not make someone comply.
He gave the example of a Surrey landlord who had been subject to five hearings determining he had to make repairs to a tenant’s suite.
“Orders as a result of those hearings had actually resulted in a rent reduction down to zero, so the renter was no longer paying rent, but the repairs were still not being made,” McGregor said.
“The landlord did not do that. Therefore we levied the fine against the landlord.”
Robinson said additional staff at the branch have reduced the wait time for callers getting through with their concerns about a landlord or tenants. A public information program is coming out to help people understand their rights and obligations for situations like arranging repairs.
Tenants should know they can arrange to stay in their homes while minor repairs are completed, and landlords should know the rules around having people move out for major repairs, Robinson said.
The province is still considering some of the recommendations of its rental task force, including a call to prevent strata councils from banning rentals in their buildings.
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