Base rent hikes on inflation

Irving Hamilton
September 25, 2018

According to Chandra Herbert, the task force heard from many renters about how the current model was making life in B.C. increasingly unaffordable because wages were not keeping pace.

The RHTF says the recommendations are based on hearing from British Columbians about rental increase affordability and its review of how other provinces set rent.

Following what it says was "months" of online and in-person consultation in communities throughout the province, BC's Rental Housing Task Force (RHTF) says it is recommending the provincial government change the annual allowable rent increase formula to "ease pressure" on renters.

The MLA said the recommendations "follow the approach of Ontario and Manitoba and will keep rent more affordable while ensuring rental homes are maintained and improved".

For more than a decade, Ontario and Manitoba have limited rent increases to the inflation rate.

Chandra Herbert said the provincial government will be looking at the task force recommendations this week and that a decision will be made by October 1.

"We believe this strikes the balance between affordability for renters and the need to maintain properties", he said.

The head of an industry group, however, warned the proposed change will cast a chill over planned new rental developments because lenders and developers would not be able to make as much profit if it is adopted.

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"We are acutely aware of the challenges [renters face], but the harsh reality is, we are operating in the same high-cost environment", he added.

The task force also recommends giving landlords the opportunity to apply for an additional increase if they can show the formula does not cover maintenance and other costs.

Landlord B.C.'s David Hutniak said the proposed changes unfairly burden landlords and could backfire.

Landlords would have to apply for the extra increases with receipts of work done, and decisions would be made on a case-by-case basis. There is no limit on the percentage rent increase above the guideline allowed for an extraordinary increase in taxes or utilities.

In early September, Housing Minister Selina Robinson declined to comment on the status of the $400 annual renter's grant the NDP promised in its 2017 election campaign.

Chandra Herbert said most renters understand that costs go up, but that many have been paying the maximum hike for years while the conditions of the properties where they're living deteriorate.

The rental task force is expected to release its full recommendations in November.

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