B.C. cracking down on ‘unfair’ evictions in Tenancy Act amendments

B.C. landlords will soon no longer be allowed to increase rent because of a new baby. As Monika Gul reports, it’s one of several proposed changes announced by the provincial government.

The B.C. government is proposing amendments to the Residential Tenancy Act, which it hopes will better protect renters from “bad-faith evictions.”

Premier David Eby says that while most landlords and tenants “play by the rules” and have respectful relationships, “too many people in B.C. are still facing unfair rent hikes and evictions under false pretenses.”

“At the same time, many people who have chosen to rent part of their home are struggling to end problematic tenancies. That’s why we’re taking action to protect both renters and landlords with stronger rules designed to ensure the law is respected by everyone — and bring more fairness for everyone in the rental market,” he added.

Along with changes to eviction eligibility, the Ministry of Housing shared Tuesday that the changes will “protect growing families” by prohibiting rent increases when a child under 19 enters the household.

“No rent increases above the annual allowable rent increase will be permitted even if there is a term in the tenancy agreement that states rent will increase with new occupants,” the ministry explained.

The province says it is also working to resolve rental disputes faster.

“We have taken steps to address long wait times at the Residential Tenancy Branch, reducing those by more than 50 per cent, and adding new guidelines and flexibility around problem tenants and increasing the ability to remove them quickly and effectively at the Residential Tenancy Branch,” said Eby Tuesday.

According to the ministry, the amendments will also include:

  • Allowing more flexibility in addressing cases where there is a “problematic tenancy” and prescribing more clear guidelines for ending tenancy with justified cause;
  • Increasing the amount of notice a landlord must give a tenant when ending a tenancy for personal occupancy;
  • Increasing the amount of time a landlord must occupy a rental unit after ending a tenancy for personal occupancy from six months to 12 months;
  • Increasing the amount of time a tenant has to dispute a notice to end tenancy from 15 days to 30 days;
  • Prohibiting evictions for personal use in purpose-built rental buildings with five or more units; and
  • Prohibiting eviction for the conversion of rental units to specific non-residential uses.

“These changes are critical to protect good renters and landlords from those who try and cheat the system for profit,” said Vancouver-West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert.

“We know of too many people who act in good faith that are facing the consequences of those who take advantage of the system, and this legislation is crucial to put an end to that,” Herbert added.

But one landlord says the proposed changes will only benefit tenants, and he would like to see more protections for landlords when dealing with bad renters.

“The tenant has full right to live in your house free of rent for three, four, five months and the government can’t do anything,” said Baldeep Jhand, a member of the Landlord Rights Association of B.C.

Meanwhile, though the Vancouver Tenants Union says these changes are a good step in the right direction, it notes more work is still needed to address gaps.

“I think it would also be good to crack down on caretaker evictions as well, make landlords wait until there’s a natural vacancy that pops up in a building,” said Rebecca Love with the organization.

-With files from Michael Williams and Monika Gul

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