Jagmeet Singh promises cash for tenants as part of NDP housing policy

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      In the B.C. NDP's successful election campaign in 2017, it offered a $400 cheque for every tenant in the province.

      After the election, the money was never delivered because of opposition from the then B.C. Green leader, Andrew Weaver, who held the balance of power in a minority government.

      So in the 2020 election campaign, the B.C. NDP revived the promise and won a majority. Premier Horgan emphasized that this money woudn't go to households earning more than $80,000 per year.

      In a similar move this weekend, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh decided to offer cash to tenants to help the federal party's chances in the September 20 election.

      He's promised payments of up to $5,000 to help families cover their rent. There are no details on the NDP website about eligibility or the cost of this program.

      Keep in mind that the B.C. NDP government regulates rents through the Residential Tenancy Act. It has frozen rents for tenants until December 31, which was another of Horgan's election promises in 2020.

      The B.C. rent freeze does not apply to commercial tenancies, co-operative housing, some assisted-living facilities, and where rent is geared to income in nonprofit tenancies.

      In a news release, the federal New Democrats included a link to a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation data showing a $422 increase in average rents for two-bedroom apartments in Metro Vancouver structures of six units or more from 2015 to 2020.

      In row structures of three and over, two-bedroom units rented, on average, at $506 higher per month in 2020 compared to 2015 in Metro Vancouver.

      Because the B.C. NDP government has not introduced "vacancy control", landlords can increase rents as much as they like on a housing unit after a tenant moves out, which is what's driving up rents nowadays.

      According to Singh, the party's promise of cash for renters "would immediately help families with that increased cost that Justin Trudeau has allowed to happen".

      There was no mention of any provincial government's role in regulating rents.

      The federal NDP news release also stated that Singh  "would close the loopholes that allow big developers to force people out of their homes through sudden renoviction notices".

      This came in the wake of a B.C. group, Rent Strike Bargain, blasting the B.C. NDP government for not doing enough to stop landlords from renovicting tenants.

      According to Rent Strike Bargain, B.C.'s Residential Tenancy Branch has issued just seven penalties to landlords in connection with renovictions over the past two years. Tenants won their cases only 13 percent of the time.

      Rent Strike Bargain wants the province to grant tenants collective-bargaining rights with their landlords so they can advocate and negotiate fair rents. For more information on this idea, read the letter that the group has written to Attorney General David Eby, who's also B.C.'s minister responsible for housing.