August 24, 2017 8:18 pm
Updated: August 24, 2017 8:38 pm

B.C. tenants groups call for NDP to curb 4 per cent rent hikes

Tenant advocacy groups say B.C.'s new government should step in to curb rising rents in Vancouver.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
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Housing advocates are calling on the new NDP government to end a provision that allows landlords to increase rents by two per cent plus inflation every year.

The formula, contained in B.C.’s Residential Tenancy Act, will permit rents to jump by a maximum of 4 per cent in 2018.

That’s up from 3.7 per cent in 2017, and the highest jump since 2012.

READ MORE: B.C. tenants could be on the hook for 4-per-cent rent hike next year

Amita Vulimiri from the Community Legal Assistance Society said the government should scrap the “two per cent plus inflation” provision, and instead limit increases to the rate of inflation only.

“That’s what they have in Ontario, and it seems to be working fine there where it is just inflation,” she said.

“I think it’s just closer to two per cent there for their rent increases coming year end.”

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B.C.’s Tenant Resource and Advocacy Centre is echoing Vulimiri’s call.

Spokesperson Andrew Sakamoto is also calling for a switch to an inflation-only model.

READ MORE: New record: $2,090 a month is average cost of one-bedroom rental in Vancouver

But the government also needs to act on a “loophole” in the Residential Tenancy Act that allows landlords to use fixed-term leases to jack up rents beyond the maximum allowable percentage, he said.

“Basically what happens is that landlords are signing tenants to one year leases,” said Sakamoto.

“And at the end of that one year, then going to the tenant and saying ‘Okay, you have a vacate clause so you can either move out, or, if you’d like to stay, you have to sign a brand new tenancy with a brand new terms including rent at whatever I want.”

READ MORE: Renovictions still a ‘huge problem’ for Vancouver renters, says MP

Under next year’s maximum four per cent hike, average annual rents for a one-bedroom suite in Metro Vancouver could climb by between $556 and $955 – far above the $400 “renter’s grant” promised by the NDP in the 2017 election.

Housing Minister Selina Robinson has yet to respond to requests for comment.

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