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B.C. Government looking to extend rent freeze to the end of 2021

Rent won’t be going up in 2021 if the Province’s proposed legislative changes are passed, which includes various other recommendations.

The B.C. Government is proposing an extension of the existing rent freeze to December 31st, 2021. Legislative changes would also cap future rent increases to match inflation, stop illegal “renovictions” and improve the dispute resolution process for both landlords and tenants.

“The changes mean no more tenants will face eviction notices for phoney renovations that were never going to happen,” said Spencer Chandra Herbert, MLA for Vancouver West-End, on behalf of David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing. “By putting an end to this kind of bullying behaviour, meant to drive out long-term tenants and jack up the rent, we’re protecting renters and supporting rental housing providers who do proactive maintenance of their rental homes.”

Landlords would be required to apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) before they can terminate a tenancy agreement for the purpose of renovations. As well, the B.C. Government said landlords will not be able to end tenancies for renovations that are not substantial or do not require the rental unit to be vacated.

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All of the changes, if passed, would come into effect on July 1st, 2021 and would be in addition to earlier protections tacked on in 2018.

“We know many people who rent in our communities have been challenged by high rents,” said Chandra Herbert. “That’s why our government cut rent increases almost in half by capping them to inflation, and then when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we stopped rent increases altogether and now we’re extending that to the end of 2021. We know there’s more to do, but with these new changes, we’re continuing to make progress.”

The rent freeze was initially brought in during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. The Province said that all renters who have received notice of a rent increase that would have taken effect after March 30th, 2020 and before January 1st, 2022 can disregard those notices.

The new legislation would cap all rent increases to the inflation rate. Prior to 2017, the B.C. Government said the maximum allowable rent increase was as high as 4.3%.

All of the proposed changes are recommendations from the Rental Housing Task Force (RHTF). Some of the other proposed changes to both the Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act and the Residential Tenancy Act include the following:

  • Expanding the scope of administrative penalties the Compliance and Enforcement Unit can levy, including for giving false or misleading information in a dispute resolution proceeding or investigation;
  • Improving fairness in the residential tenancy dispute resolution process by expanding grounds for the RTB to review arbitrator decisions; and
  • Clarifying language in the Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act to address conflicts between park rules and tenancy agreements.

MORE: Rental Housing Task Force Recommendations (RHTF)

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