B.C. government closes loophole that allows for geographic rent increases

Vancouver-West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert: "Too many tenants live in fear of drastic increases to their rent" | BIV file photo, credit Chung Chow

The British Columbia government has eliminated a loophole that has allowed landlords to increase rents beyond allowable increase limits when comparable properties in the area are renting for higher amounts.

Starting today (December 11), landlords will no longer be able to increase rents beyond the maximum allowable increase. In 2018, the maximum increase will be 4%.

“With near zero vacancy rates in many B.C. communities, too many tenants live in fear of drastic increases to their rent,” said Vancouver-West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert.

“This change means an end to one more loophole that some landlords have taken advantage of, and builds on the other steps our government has taken to increase protections for renters, such as closing the fixed-term lease loophole and increasing resources for the Residential Tenancy Branch.”

Andrew Sakamoto, executive director of the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre, said this move is a positive step toward housing affordability and security.

“The Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre has too often seen landlords use the threat of excessive geographic rent increases to bully tenants into lesser but still significant increases that exceed the annual allowable percentage,” he said.

“Faced with the prospect of a 50% geographic rent increase, disadvantaged tenants often consent to a 30% increase out of fear.”

According to Sakamoto, the change will affect around 1.5 million tenants in the province.

In October, the provincial government announced it was introducing an amendment that would eliminate vacate clauses from fixed-term lease agreements. A vacate clause would allow a landlord to require a tenant to either move out or sign a new tenancy agreement at the end of a lease agreement, permitting the landlord to then set the new rent at any rate.

- With files from the Times Colonist

ecrawford@biv.com

@EmmaHampelBIV