August 25, 2017 6:29 pm

B.C. housing minister ‘looking at’ reducing maximum allowable rent increases

WATCH: Report says Vancouver rents hit new high

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B.C. Housing Minister Selina Robinson isn’t ruling out changes to a provincial formula that sets the maximum amount that landlords can raise their monthly rents by.

The formula is contained in the Residential Tenancy Act; it allows landlords to hike rents by two per cent plus inflation.

On Thursday, housing advocates called on the province to scrap the provision and limit increases to the rate of inflation, after it emerged that B.C. tenants could be on the hook for rent increases of up to four per cent next year.

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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.

On Thursday, housing advocates called on the province to scrap the provision and limit increases to the rate of inflation.

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

On Friday, Robinson said the government is “looking at” the situation.

“[We are] having conversations right now,” she said. “We just saw [the 2018 increase] come out and I know that people are very, very concerned.”

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READ MORE: B.C. tenants’ groups call for NDP to curb 4-per-cent rent hikes

Robinson wouldn’t commit to any changes, and added that rent control is only one piece of the province’s affordable housing puzzle.

“We also need to bring more stock on,” she said. “We also need to be making sure that we remove the barriers that the previous government put in place on student housing.

“There’s certainly been some concern about student housing and the fact that 6,000 students are looking for housing at UBC alone.”

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

Meanwhile, Robinson also said legislation to address fixed-term leases, which housing advocates say unscrupulous landlords are using as a loophole to dodge rent increase limits, will be tabled when the legislature returns.

Critics charge that property owners are using “vacate clauses” in the leases to force tenants to either move out or re-sign leases at much higher rents when their original rental term ends.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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