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B.C. tables legislation to combat ‘bad faith’ evictions

Other elements of new law prevent landlords from raising rents if families grow
Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon speaks at a news conference in Victoria Tuesday (April 2, 2024). He was joined by Premier David Eby, right, Spencer Chandra Herbert, premier’s liaison for renters, and Victoria-Beacon Hill MLA Grace Lore. (Mark Page) Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon speaks at a news conference in Victoria Tuesday (April 2, 2024). He was joined by Premier David Eby, right, Spencer Chandra Herbert, premier’s liaison for renters, and Victoria-Beacon Hill MLA Grace Lore. (Mark Page)

Legislation tabled Tuesday (April 2) promises to protect B.C. renters against rent hikes when their families are growing, or when their landlords want to use units for themselves. But the legislation also promises to give landlords certainty.

“I have heard concerns from renters that there were insufficient protections to protect renters and (from) landlords that there insufficient protections to protect landlords,” Premier David Eby said. “That’s why this bill includes elements that addresses both concerns.”

If B.C. wants to encourage the construction of rental housing, it means finding a balance between landlords and tenants, Eby said.

About one-third of B.C.’s two million households rent with B.C.’s rents among the highest in the country.

Perhaps the anchor point of the legislation is the story of a Vancouver woman who has been paying $600 more in rent after giving birth. The bill means landlords cannot raise rents if the tenants add minors, assuming the rental agreement varies with the number of occupants.

Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon said the bill also tries to protect renters — especially seniors on fixed incomes — whom landlords are targeting, pointing to comments last year from out-going seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie, who had warned off growing homelessness among seniors.

“(It)’s a real concern that we are seeing more seniors evicted from long-term tenancy, who are trying to get in the market and finding only very expensive units available for them and many of them are finding themselves in a very precarious housing situation,” Kahlon said. It is not interest of society for these individuals to show up in homeless shelters, he added

RELATED: Advocates rally for B.C. vacancy controls, landlords say they won’t work

The bill specifically bans evictions from personal use in purpose-built rental buildings with more than five units.

“We believe that the personal use (provision) does not make sense for those types of professionally run buildings,” Kahlon said.

Spencer Chandra Herbert, MLA for Vancouver-West End and premier’s liaison for renters, said such evictions may involve landlords claiming units for their children.

“(There) were no kids moving into that building,” he said. “It was just a ruse to try and force good long-term tenants out (and) to jack up rates.”

The bill also tries to discourage personal use by extending the personal occupancy period to 12 months from six months.

Landlords will also be required to generate a web-posted notice when they evict tenants for personal use.

“This change will help educate landlords on the required conditions for the personal use evictions while providing a standardized process for serving notice,” Kahlon said.

This process will also allow the Residential Tenancy Branch to track personal use evictions and will aid in eviction disputes if they arise, he added.

“Landlords need certainty that issues with problematic tenants can be resolved quickly,” he said.

Wait times at the RTB have gone down by almost 54 per cent since Nov. 2022 thanks to additional staff, service improvements and investments, according to government.

Kahlon added that bill also includes a tool that would make it easier for tenants and landlords to recover outstanding payments from each other. Safety and health concerns would also be addressed more quickly, Kahlon said.

“So the issues that landlords have raised, we are addressing,” he said. “The issues that tenants are raising, we are addressing. In the end, we are addressing both ends of the spectrum.”

Elements of the bill come into effect in phases.

The prohibition on personal occupancy evictions in purpose-built rental buildings with five or more units has come into effect on Tuesday following the bill’s tabling, for example. Other aspects such as prohibiting rent increases for additional occupants who are minors and the prohibition against frivolous notices to end tenancies come into effect following royal assent.

BC United’s Peter Milobar, shadow finance minister, praised aspects of the legislation such as the prohibition on rent increases when families grow, but the devil will be in the detail. While people deserve better protection, it is also the case that landlords are also facing higher costs and that the RTB needs to speed up its processes.

BC Greens Leader Sonia Furstenau said her party welcomed the limit on no-fault evictions among other changes.

“B.C. continues to be the eviction capital of Canada, and the B.C. Greens will continue to advocate for vacancy control, a tangible solution to protect renters in B.C. that would bring stability to our out-of-control rental market, protect affordable rental housing and better limit no-fault evictions,” she said.

Black Press Media has reached out to the Canada Landlords Association, as well as the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre for comment.

Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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