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Province Fixes Loophole Which Threatens Renters

Victoria – The provincial government has introduced legislation to close a major loophole in fixed-term leases and improve the rights of renters throughout British Columbia, Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Selina Robinson announced today.

Robinson says the new legislation will mean landlords can no longer use the loophole to bypass annual rent control, meaning renters will now be protected against massive rent hikes at the end of a lease.

“We are protecting the rights of renters who, for too long, have been left open to unfair and unjustified rent increases,” said Robinson, introducing amendments to the Residential Tenancy Act and Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act.

“By closing this loophole, renters will know they’ll be able to stay in their homes without the threat of skyrocketing rents.”

If passed, the amendments will:

  • Restrict a landlord’s ability to use a vacate clause in fixed-term tenancy agreements to certain circumstances only; and
  • Limit rent increases between fixed-term tenancy agreements with the same tenant to the maximum annual allowable amount (currently 2% plus inflation).
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Further details on amendments

The ministry has consulted with key stakeholders to identify under which circumstances a landlord will be permitted to use a vacate clause in fixed-term tenancy agreements. For example:

  • A person might need to rent out their home during an extended absence for work or travel but has firm plans to return on a particular date; and
  • A tenant needs to sublet a rental unit for a set period of time.

There are two situations involving existing fixed-term tenancy agreements where a vacate clause can still be enforced. If, before the day the legislative amendments were introduced:

  • A landlord, expecting their tenant to move out at the end of the term, has already entered into a tenancy agreement with a new tenant; and
  • A landlord was granted an order of possession requiring a tenant to vacate the unit, but the possession order has not yet taken effect.

The proposed changes will also strengthen the ability of the Residential Tenancy Branch to enforce compliance under the Residential Tenancy Act and Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act.

The amendments will allow the branch to:

  • Compel the production of documents as part of a penalty investigation;
  • Publish penalty decisions;
  • Refuse to accept an application for dispute resolution if an administrative penalty is owed; and
  • Pursue prosecution where penalties have been levied, but there is still no compliance.

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