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

OPINION: Ten signs that Port Alice has changed

“Right now, our lack of amenities is holding back economic growth in our village”

Striking Western Forest Products workers could lose benefits in September

Union, forest company at odds over Vancouver Island benefit payments as strike enters third month

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

Port McNeill council discusses ‘bear aware’ and what you can do to stay safe

Port McNeill’s Conservation Officer Brad Adams gave a presentation about being ‘bear aware’.

Port Hardy RCMP release tips to prevent fraud and theft from vehicles

In many of the incidents reported, “the vehicles that were broken into were unlocked.”

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

Wife charged in husband’s death in Sechelt

Karin Fischer has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of her husband, Max

B.C. Hydro applies to decrease electricity rates next year

Province wrote off $1.1 billion debt to help reverse rate increase

Retired Vancouver Island teacher ‘Set for Life’ after $675K lottery win

Patrick Shannon plans to buy new sails for his sailboat

Speculation tax forces sale of Greater Victoria’s iconic ‘Tulip House’

Bob and Jan Fleming selling their retirement home famous for its thousands of tulips

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Man at centre of dropped HIV-disclosure case sues province and 10 cops

Brian Carlisle of Abbotsford says Mission RCMP defamed him and were ‘negligent’ in their investigation

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town rocked by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

Most Read