BC plans to extend rent freeze to end of 2021, create barriers to renovictions

Rent freeze to be extended

The B.C. government has announced new legislation that will extend the province’s rent freeze through to the end of the year and cap future rent increases to inflation.

The legislative changes tabled Monday will also “stop illegal renovictions” and make changes to the tenant/landlord resolution process.

"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."

The new legislation, if passed, will require landlords to apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch before they can terminate a tenancy agreement for a renovation. Ontario uses a similar system.

Landlords will no longer be able to end tenancies for renovations that are “not substantial” or do not require the rental unit to be vacant. The changes are scheduled to come into effect on July 1, 2021.

The extended rent freeze will also mean all renters who have received a notice of a rent increase that would have taken effect after March 30, 2020, and before Jan. 1, 2022, can disregard those notices. Starting in 2022 and beyond, rent increases will be capped at the rate of inflation.

Previous policy allowed governments to approve annual rent increases two per cent above the inflation rate.

"We know many people who rent in our communities have been challenged by high rents," Chandra Herbert said. "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."

Other proposed changes coming to the Residential Tenancy Act and the Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act include:

  • 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.

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