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Base rent hikes on inflation

A task force examining the heated issue of annual rent increases that are permitted in British Columbia has recommended the hikes be reduced and tied only to inflation.

Task force chairman and NDP member of the legislature Spencer Chandra Herbert says the province should scrap the current model of calculating rent increases which allows landlords an annual hike of two per cent plus the inflation rate.

The recommendations also call on the government to require landlords to apply for additional rent increases if they can prove maintenance and other costs can't be covered by the inflation-based increase alone.

Chandra Herbert says the recommendations are based on a model that is successfully used in Ontario and Manitoba.

He says rent increases are an issue across the province, with tenants concerned about affordability and landlords saying they need extra money to improve their rental homes.

The recommendations follow months of public consultations in various communities and are the first from a full report to be forwarded to the government this fall.

"We believe this strikes the balance between the need for affordability for renters and the need to maintain properties," says Chandra Herbert. "People were clear to us: they understand costs do go up but they also need to be able to afford them."

Chandra Herbert says further recommendations in the full report are expected to include manufactured home parks and problem tenants and landlords.

He says consultations revealed some people were struggling with rental increases while living in homes without hydro and one landlord's unit had incurred $700,000 in damage.

The Housing Ministry says the task force recommends more work be done with landlord and tenant groups to determine the criteria for reviewing landlord applications for increases above the inflation rate.

It says a decision will be made on the early recommendations before Oct. 1.

Premier John Horgan and Housing Minister Selina Robinson appointed the task force in April, and it consists of two New Democrat members of the legislature and one from the Green party.



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