Province acts to stop landlords from raising rents based on higher rates in an area

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      The new NDP government is closing what it describes as another “loophole” that has allowed landlords to unfairly increase tenants’ rent.

      According to a December 9 media release, the provincial government is amending the Residential Tenancy Act to remove a provision that up until now has allowed landlords to apply to increase their tenants’ rent beyond regular annual increases on the basis of higher rents in the surrounding area.

      Each year, a landlord is allowed to increase rent according to a formula set by the province. The amount is usually between two and four percent. But, according to the existing Residential Tenancy Act, a landlord can seek approval from the Residential Tenancy Branch to further increase a tenant’s rent if “the rent for the rental unit is significantly lower than the rent payable for other rental units that are similar to, and in the same geographic area as, the rental unit”.

      As of December 11, 2017, B.C. landlords will no longer have that option.

      "With near zero vacancy rates in many B.C. communities, too many tenants live in fear of drastic increases to their rent," said B.C. housing minister Selina Robinson quoted in the release. "This change means an end to one more loophole that some landlords have taken advantage of, and builds on the other steps our government has taken to increase protections for renters, such as closing the fixed-term lease loophole and increasing resources for the Residential Tenancy Branch."

      Vancouver-West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert announced the news alongside tenants today (December 9) at the Seafield Apartments at 1436 Pendrell Street.

      "Renters have been threatened with huge rent hikes under the existing rules - that's a scary situation for any renter," he said. "Since 2008, I've been working to stop this, so that renters can have the more secure housing they need. I'm pleased our government has delivered for renters today."

      As the Straight reported on October 6, a one-bedroom apartment in Vancouver is now listed on Craigslist for an average of $2,000 a month.

      According to Statistics Canada, in 2015, the median after-tax income for a one-person household in the City of Vancouver was $33,957, or $2,830 a month.

      Travis Lupick is a journalist based in Vancouver. His first book, Fighting for Space: How a Group of Drug Users Transformed One City's Struggle with Addiction, was published in November 2017. You can follow him on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.