NDP and Green Party MLAs are calling on the B.C. government to act quickly to cap next year’s rent increase at the rate of inflation.
An annual maximum rent increase of two per cent plus inflation, in place for many years in B.C., would produce a 4.5 per cent increase next year unless the formula is changed.
The formula should allow annual increases to cover inflation only, with landlords allowed to apply for a larger increase if they have done substantial improvements.
Vancouver-West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert, who chaired the task force as it toured the province and consulted other provinces, said rising rents and lack of maintenance are problems that go beyond Vancouver.
“We saw too many cases where rents were being increased to the maximum every year, and the buildings were falling apart,” Chandra Herbert said.
The task force called on Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Selina Robinson to act as soon as this week to change the formula, keeping rent increases down to the federal inflation rate of 2.5 per cent for 2019.
Ontario and Manitoba allow property owners to apply for additional rent increases to cover maintenance and renovations, and it has not deterred investors from building additional rental stock, Chandra Herbert said.
We believe this strikes the balance between the need for affordability for renters and the need to maintain property,” he said. “People were clear to us. They understand costs do go up, but they also need to be able to afford them.”
Courtenay-Comox MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard said the message at meetings across the province is that renters and property owners both need a fair system.
“In my home community, I’ve had a renter who was forced out of town into a secondary suite that didn’t have a door that locks, didn’t have hydro, and still faced rent increases,” Leonard said. “I’ve also had rental housing providers who have had their rental units damaged to the tune of $7,000.”
The task force expects to release its full report and recommendations later this fall.