Victoria – In addressing the recommendations of the provincial Rental Housing Task Force, the B.C. government is moving ahead immediately with increased public education and bolstered enforcement to better protect the rights of both renters and landlords.
Some of these recommendations are already in play:
Three-phased approach to Rental Housing Task Force recommendations
The Rental Housing Task Force’s recommendations will be addressed using a phased approach to allow quick action on recommendations that can be implemented immediately, while enabling thoughtful analysis on more complex recommendations that may require more time or changes to legislation:
Phase 1: Recommendations already underway or complete:
- The Province took immediate action on early recommendations by cutting the annual allowable rent increase by 2%, limiting it to inflation. The next step is working with landlords on exemptions to allow for significant building maintenance costs.
- To stop illegal or unnecessary renovictions, government is taking steps to ensure renters and landlords know their rights and responsibilities. A local government liaison position will also help co-ordinate efforts with local governments to address illegal renovictions in particularly hard-hit communities.
- These steps build on the recent changes to the Residential Tenancy Act to provide better protections to renters by:
- providing renters more time to find alternative housing in case of a demolition or renovation that requires the unit to be vacant;
- providing renters with more time to dispute a notice to end a tenancy for demolition or renovation;
- increasing the amount of compensation paid to a former renter if the planned renovation/demolition is not completed following the end of a tenancy. This also applies to situations where the landlord falsely uses a “vacate” clause to move into the unit, but then rents to someone else; and
- including a first right of refusal for renters in multi-unit buildings who are evicted because of renovation or repair to return to the unit. This will help address misuse of renovictions by allowing renters to confirm renovations did occur.
- The Province’s first poverty reduction strategy, TogetherBC, includes $10 million for a provincial rent bank, an action recommended by the task force, to help low-income renters with short-term loans.
- A new compliance and enforcement unit is investigating complaints and taking action, including levying penalties, against serious or repeat offenders.
- Increased investments in the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) have
resulted in significant improvements to wait times, including:
- phone calls: five minutes (down from over 45 minutes);
- emergency hearings – four weeks (down from over 6.5 weeks);
- urgent hearings – six weeks (down from over eight weeks); and
- Monetary hearings – 14 weeks (down from over 25 weeks)
- The RTB is being proactive and responsive to the need for better education for renters and landlords on their rights and responsibilities through funding for public education by Landlord BC and the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre.
Phase 2: Further recommendations to be addressed by the end of 2019:
- The Province will start working with local governments to develop compensation and relocation guidelines in cases of demovictions, to reduce the need for arbitration and prevent homelessness.
- The ministries of Municipal Affairs and Housing and Finance are working on a process to collect outstanding fines and refuse services to people with outstanding penalties.
- Policy work indicates that a regulation change could speed the return of security deposits to renters.
Phase 3: Recommendations to be addressed in 2020:
- A few of the more complex recommendations may require legislation or further analysis and work with different stakeholder groups to understand the need and broader implications of any changes.
- In particular, recommendations, such as bans on rental restrictions in stratas and issues around short-term rentals in communities, require further consultation with stakeholders and local governments.
- Other recommendations, such as those involving a renter’s right of first refusal to return to a unit following renovations or allowing email as a form of notice of service, may need legislative changes to be addressed.