Rent freeze extended; renovictions, disputes addressed in proposed legislation
The BC government recently introduced Bill 7 - Tenancy Statutes Amendment Act to extend the current residential rent freeze to December 31, 2021, create regulations to prevent renovictions, and improve dispute resolution.
These changes, if passed, will come into effect on July 1, 2021.
The new rent freeze means all renters who have received a rent increase notice that would have taken effect after March 30, 2020, and before Jan. 1, 2022, can disregard those notices.
Starting in 2022, rent increases will be capped at the rate of inflation.
Landlords will be required to apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) before terminating a tenancy agreement if they’re renovating.
Landlords won’t be able to end tenancies for renovations that aren’t substantial or don’t require the rental unit to be vacant.
Proposed changes will improve the residential tenancy dispute resolution process by expanding grounds for the RTB to review arbitrator decisions, including formally reviewing a decision where it’s clear an error has been made. The goal is to divert cases from the judicial review process to the RTB’s internal review process, reducing costs to tenants and landlords, the courts, and government.
All of these changes fulfil recommendations of the government’s Rental Housing Task Force. (Opens 72-page pdf)
The industry perspective
David Hutniak, the CEO of LandlordBC, says his members of organization aren’t happy the rent freeze has been extended throughout 2021.
“Many landlords haven’t been able to, and now won’t be able to compensate for inflationary increases to for their businesses for two years. Property taxes are up, insurance costs are up,” Hutniak said, noting landlords and tenants have been helped by the government’s structured rent repayment plan.
As for the renoviction regulations, Hutniak explains that landlords can still make investments. “If the scope of the renovations requires ending tenancies and vacating the building, we can still do this. We just have to go through a RTB arbitrator. Overall, this will increase transparency and end conflict.”