B.C. tenants could face largest rent increases in 15 years in 2019

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      Anyone paying $1,600 per month in monthly rent might want to brace themselves for a $72 per month increase next year.

      A rent of $1,200 per month could lead to a $54 monthly hike. And rent of $2,000 per month might result in a tenant paying an additional $90 per month.

      That's because the B.C. government has set the maximum allowable increase at 4.5 percent in 2019.

      The announcement came on Friday (September 8) afternoon, which is the preferred time of the week for governments to dump bad news on the public.

      It's the largest allowable annual rent increase in B.C. since 2004, when the formula permitted a 4.6 percent hike.

      Landlords can hike rents once a year under provincial legislation.

      The amount is based on a formula of the inflation rate plus two percent.

      That annual average percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index was 2.5 percent up until July 2018.

      "For manufactured home park tenancies, the rate is 4.5% plus a proportional amount for the change in local government levies and regulated utility fees," the government states on its website.

      Landlords are required to give tenants three months' notice in writing of any increase.

      Notwithstanding the B.C. government announcement, one Vancouver political party, the Coalition of Progressive Electors, is campaigning for a rent freeze.

      And it's promising to use municipal tools to achieve that.

      "When landlords apply for a business licence each year, which currently costs $71 per year per rental unit, the Rent Freeze can be made a requirement of the licence," COPE council candidate Derrick O'Keefe maintained in a commentary on Straight.com. "As with the long-overdue Empty Homes Tax and short-term rental regulations, fines can be applied to landlords who don’t comply. COPE will also implement a mandatory landlord registry to track rents and rent increases."

      A group representing landlords called Landlord B.C. is vehemently opposed to a rent freeze, declaring on its website that this is "not the solution".

      "The notion that freezing rents will address current rental housing challenges completely ignores the fact that the net result will instead mean less rental supply as secondary market landlords, in particular, get out of the business or leap to home sharing platforms like AirBnB," it states. "Owners of existing purpose-built rental buildings will freeze all investment for the maintenance and enhancement of their buildings and, new construction will stop dead; not only because the business case is gone for the developer but, because the banks, pensions funds and CMHC will all say we are not lending you any money to build rental in this environment.  This is the harsh reality and those who are advocating for a rent freeze need to consider the unintended consequences."

      Instead, Landlord B.C. argues for portable housing benefits targeted at tenants in the greatest financial need.


      Vancouver housing researcher Karen Sawatsky put out the following tweet in response to the provincial government's announcement.

      CBC reporter Justin McElroy tweeted a transcript of his interview with Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Selina Robinson regarding the looming rent hikes.