In December, the B.C. Rental Housing Task Force submitted its final report and recommendations for “making B.C.’s rental housing system fairer.” The report focused on three distinct areas: evictions for renovations, rental security, and improving enforcement of regulations and laws.
In total, 23 recommendations for potential new or amended regulations, and for actions that could modernize and improve the rental housing system were identified – including introducing stronger protection for tenants from renovations or demolitions.
“We looked carefully at how all of the recommendations would impact both renters and landlords,” said Adam Olsen, member of the B.C. Rental Housing Task Force and MLA for Saanich North and the Islands. “It was very important that we provide fair and balanced recommendations, understanding that renters need strengthened protections, while landlords need to continue to be able to make key decisions regarding their rental property.”
In making its assessment, the B.C. Rental Housing Task Force travelled to 11 communities around the province to hear from renters and landlords, as well as stakeholders. It also received more than 430 written submissions and more than 1,400 responses to its online survey.
“Throughout our engagement process, we discovered that people throughout B.C., whether in bigger centres like Vancouver or Kelowna, or rural communities like Revelstoke or Salt Spring Island, have been facing challenges with the current system for too long,” said Ronna-Rae Leonard, member of the Rental Housing Task Force and MLA for Courtenay-Comox. “There are unique concerns in each community, but we feel that our recommendations will make life better for everyone.”
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing will review the task force’s recommendations over the coming weeks to consider how they might be implemented and discuss the recommendations with key stakeholder organizations.
“Renting needs to be fair for both renters and for landlords,” said Premier John Horgan. “That’s why I asked the Rental Housing Task Force to examine our rental housing laws for ways to make them work better for everyone. I’m pleased with their work and I look forward to working with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to continue addressing the housing needs of British Columbians.”
In September, the task force released early recommendations and took action by setting the annual allowable rent increase to 2.5 per cent to match inflation, with an exception to allow for modest increases where work has been done to improve rental properties.
The following additional steps have been recommended:
- enhancing the existing provincial Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) program and Rental Assistance Program (RAP), providing greater benefits to low-income seniors and family households renting in the private market;
- closing the fixed-term lease loophole and eliminating the geographic rent increase clause;
- strengthening protections for manufactured home park tenants;
- introducing stronger protection for tenants from renovations or demolitions;
- increasing strata fines to discourage unwanted short-term rental activity;
- providing $6.8 million over three years to the Residential Tenancy Branch to improve services. This funding has already had a positive impact, including reducing the average time it takes to reach an information officer on the phone by 84 per cent, from almost 45 minutes to eight minutes.
- Introducing rental zoning legislation to give local governments the ability to preserve and increase the overall rental supply.
The B.C. Rental Housing Task Force was appointed by Premier Horgan in April 2018 with Chandra Herbert as chair, and Olsen and Leonard as members.