Tenants need to know their rights as rent increase approved, says advocate

Renters in Manitoba could be facing a rent increase Jan. 1. AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File

After the province announced the rental adjustment guideline for 2020 Monday — allowing for rent increases of 2.4 per cent as of Jan. 1 — a social advocacy organization tells Global News tenants need to be aware of their rights.

The 2020 rent guideline adjustment applies to most residential rentals, including apartments, single rooms, houses and duplexes.

“Landlords have an obligation to provide notice about rent increases,” said Josh Brandon, a community animator with the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg.

“If a rent increase is unjustifiable or above the guideline here, they have a right to take that to the residential tenancy (branch) and appeal that decision.

“It’s really important for tenants to speak up for themselves in those cases and to seek help if they need it from advocacy organizations.”

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The guideline does not apply to units renting for more than $1,545 a month, personal care homes, non-profit housing with subsidized rent, and certain buildings newer than 20 years old.

That means landlords who own units not included under guideline don’t have to apply to the Residential Tenancies Branch before boosting rent — and there’s no cap on those increases.

The province said landlords can apply to have an increase higher than the guideline maximum, provided they can prove that it won’t cover cost increases they’ve incurred.

Noting a recent report showing the average minimum wage needed to rent a two bedroom apartment in Canada, Brandon said renting is getting more and more unaffordable for low-income people.

“Every little increase makes it harder to get by,” Brandon said.

Tenants need written notice of rent increases three months in advance, and landlords can only raise rents once a year.

For a Jan. 1, 2020 increase, tenants will need to be notified by Sept. 30 of this year.

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