Last month, BC Housing Minister Selina Robinson introduced Bill 16 – the Tenancy Statutes Amendment Act, 2017. Should it be passed into law, the Residential Tenancy Act would be amended so that landlords could no longer use ‘vacate clauses’ in fixed term lease agreements to circumvent rent increase limits.
Currently, the vacate clause in fixed term leases allows landlords at the end of each term to either require the tenant to move out or sign a new agreement. The landlord can then raise the rent in the new agreement as much as they want. With month-to-month, on the other hand, landlords can only increase rent by the annual allowable rate, calculated by 2% plus the annual inflation rate. Bill 16 would cap increases in rent between fixed term leases with the same tenant to the maximum allowable annual rate. Bill 16 would apply to all existing and new tenancy agreements.
The allowable rent increase is 3.7% in 2017 and will increase to 4% in 2018.
According to the press release, the bill will also simplify the dispute resolution process for returning security deposits. Under the new expedited process, tenants could have their deposits returned within three weeks rather than up to 6 months.
In the Government of BC’s last budget update in September, $7 million was allocated to the Residential Tenancy Branch which enforces the regulations under the Residential Tenancy Act, which will go towards staffing and the creation of a new compliance unit.
For further details on the new legislation, please see the Government of BC’s press release “Province fixes loophole threatening renters” published October 26, 2017.