B.C. government launches rental housing task force

The B.C. government has launched a task force to look into rental housing.
The B.C. government has launched a task force to look into rental housing. AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File

The B.C. government is launching a new task force to look at rental housing.

The task force will be chaired by Vancouver-West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert.

“Housing is so fundamental to having a good life and for too long renters and landlords who have provided that housing, when they call for help haven’t received it,” Chandra Herbert said.

“When they need help to face down an illegal eviction they haven’t gotten it. When they need help to deal with someone who isn’t following the rules and potentially damaging their suite they haven’t felt confident their government had their back.”

READ MORE: Landlords are collecting too much personal info on renters: privacy commissioner

The task force, which also includes Green Party MLA Adam Olsen and the NDP’s Ronna-Rae Leonard, will report back to Premier John Horgan and Housing Minister Selina Robinson by the fall. The task force will look at a broad range of issues including rental-only re-zoning, renovictions, tenancy laws and other issues for both landlords and renters.

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“Everything is on the table as far as I am concerned,” Horgan said. “We want to make sure we find the right balance.”

“This is not to put something on the shelf. This is a deliberate and direct attempt to try and find security of tenure for those who are wanting to stay in their homes and also to provide a level of comfort to those who are putting their assets in the housing market that they are not going to be left behind as well.”

WATCH HERE: More renters forced out by soaring rents

Click to play video 'More renters forced out by soaring rents' More renters forced out by soaring rents
More renters forced out by soaring rents

According to Chandra Herbert, there are currently 1.5 million renters in the province. There are many communities, including Victoria, Kelowna and Metro Vancouver where there are almost no rental vacancies. The cost of rental stock has also been rising along with the number of complaints against landlords renovating suites just so they can toss out tenants and increase rents.

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The NDP courted renters in the previous election by promising a $400 annual renters grant. The government has not yet implemented the grant, but has promised to do so before the end of its term.

READ MORE: BC NDP’s $400 yearly renters’ grant will come in next four years, premier pledges

In October the government introduced legislation to make it easier for renters to get damage deposits back. The new rules increased penalties for landlords who take advantage of a rental market that has close to zero vacancies in many urban centres. The legislation plugs a loophole that allowed landlords to increase rent after tenants signed short-term leases.