The B.C. government wants to close a loophole that allows landlords to bypass annual rent controls by flipping tenants and imposing larger rent hikes between leases.There are about 1.5 million renters in the province and in Vancouver, vacancy rates hover near zero per cent.
Housing Minister Selina Robinson introduced changes to the Residential Tenancy Act in the legislature on Oct. 26 that she said would protect renters who have been vulnerable to higher rent increases and housing instability.She said the act has allowed landlords to impose a vacate clause on leases, forcing renters out of their homes and allowing landlords to exceed rent controls for the next tenant.
Robinson added that the changes to the law would restrict the use of the vacate clause and protect tenants renewing fixed-term agreements so they are covered by rent control, which currently allows increases of two per cent plus inflation. The changes would apply to existing rental agreements.She said the law would also streamline the dispute resolution process for the return of security and pet deposits, and ensure tenants would no longer have to wait months to get their money back.
“This will give renters the security they deserve and help bring integrity to the rental industry, which is good for landlords,” she said.
Andrew Sakamoto, executive director of the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre, said it receives about 8,000 calls from tenants annually and has noticed a spike in complaints about fixed-term tenancies and vacate clauses in recent years.
David Hutniak, chief executive officer for LandlordBC, said his organization has condemned the abuse of vacate clauses and fixed-term agreements.He said, “Landlords who are abusing this form of tenancy are damaging our industry and really their behaviour is unfair to responsible and professional landlords.”