Rich Coleman is the provincial government minister responsible for housing.

Rich Coleman is the provincial government minister responsible for housing.

Rent controls here to stay, province says

Government rules out changes to formula capping rent hikes in B.C., sets maximum increase at 2.5 per cent for 2015

The provincial government will not change B.C.’s system of limiting rent increases, reeling in a trial balloon floated by Housing Minister Rich Coleman that the current controls might be relaxed.

Coleman’s ministry announced Wednesday the maximum annual rent increase for 2015 will be 2.5 per cent, following the usual formula of two per cent plus inflation.

Ministry spokesperson Sandra Steilo said no further review of the rent control policy is now planned.

“It’s been looked at and we’re going to keep the current formula as it is,” she said.

Coleman had suggested in early December that higher annual increases might be considered because property taxes and utility bills often rise faster than landlords are permitted to raise the rent.

Landlord B.C., an association of rental housing owners and managers, had been lobbying for reform.

“We’ve proposed the outright phasing out of rent controls,” said David  Hutniak, CEO of Landlord B.C. “It’s a deterrent to developers investing in purpose-built rental buildings. We haven’t seen anything of consequence built in 20-plus years.”

He said allowing rents to rise faster would correct the current imbalance between supply and demand that has caused a near-zero vacancy rate in Metro Vancouver.

RELATED: Apartment vacancy rates drop, rents rise in Lower Mainland

NDP housing critic David Eby had argued against any change, saying renters need the predictable rent increases in order to budget and eroding the current controls would result in housing insecurity and unaffordable cost increases for thousands of residents.

Landlords are still able to raise rent between tenants or after renovations, and can apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch for higher rent increases if they face extraordinary expenses.

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