B.C. backs down on fixed-term rental rules


The B.C. Ministry of Housing of Municipal Affairs has backed down on a controversial amendment to the Residential Tenancy Act regarding fixed-term rentals. The amended Act came into effect May 17.

The changes include the outlawing of fixed-term rental agreements, where-in a landlord requires a tenant to sign a contract stating they will vacate the premises on a fixed date. Under the former legislation, the landlord could raise the rent by amounts higher than that allowed under the act, which is currently the rate of inflation, plus 2%.

B.C. Housing Minister Selina Robinson said the amended legislation would protect the rights of renters who have been left open to "unfair and unjustified rent increases."

The new legislation restricts a landlord's ability to use a vacate clause in fixed-term tenancy agreements. It does allow the landlord’s family to take possession of the unit, but only for long-term occupancy.

The change had raised concern for the many owners of seasonal recreational property, such, as cottages or ski condos, who often rent the units out during the off-season.

“This will reduce the number of rentals,” warned Sunshine Coast real estate agent Bruce Lasuta, adding that the resort area already has a near-zero vacancy rate.

But following a query by BIV, the ministry softened the regulations as it relates to seasonal property on June 5. BIV’s query specifically related to summer cottages, but the same ruling would apparently apply to other forms of seasonal property.

“A landlord can use the vacate clause if they plan, in good faith, to occupy the home at the end of the fixed-term tenancy agreement. It does not matter that they will only live in the home for the summer months,” reads an emailed statement from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.