Hous­ing min­is­ter eyes pos­si­ble cut to an­nual rent in­creases

The Miracle - - National & Int -

B.C.’s hous­ing min­is­ter is ex­plor­ing less­en­ing the an­nual rent hikes land­lords are al­lowed to ap­ply to ten­ants in the prov­ince. Selina Robin­son said the cur­rent for­mula, which caps an­nual al­low­able rent in­creases to two per cent plus the rate of in­fla­tion, will be un­der re­view within her min­istry as she tries to find ways to make life more af­ford­able for renters. “I’m very cu­ri­ous about those num­bers and how they were achieved,” she said in an in­ter­view. Due to in­fla­tion, the cur­rent max­i­mum rent in­crease is four per cent in 2018. “I also feel as a new min­is­ter I need to un­der­stand what all the pieces are, and I’m very cu­ri­ous where this for­mula came from and what is the ra­tio­nale,” said Robin­son. Un­der the law, land­lords may only in­crease rent once every 12 months, up to the max­i­mum al­low­able rate, and pro­vide three-month no­tice to ten­ants. The av­er­age rent for a one-bed­room apart­ment in Van­cou­ver is $1,950 a month, which means the max­i­mum rental in­crease is $78 this year. B.C.’s Ten­ant Re­source and Ad­vi­sory Cen­tre wants the prov­ince to lower the in­crease to just the rate of in­fla­tion, said An­drew Sakamoto, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor. That would mean the max­i­mum rental in­crease would be two per cent this year, or $39 on a $1,950 monthly apart­ment in Van­cou­ver. “Given our cur­rent rental cri­sis ten­ants are fac­ing, I think it would be more re­al­is­tic to be sim­ply in­fla­tion,” said Sakamoto. Robin­son said she’s wor­ried about rental af­ford­abil­ity, some­thing her party cam­paigned upon in the May pro­vin­cial elec­tion. The NDP promised to build 114,000 rental and co-op homes, and give renters an an­nual rental home credit of $400. “I’m look­ing for things we can de­liver ASAP, be­cause I know it’s a cri­sis,” she said. The NDP’s plat­form also pledged to end the ““fixed term lease” loop­hole, where land­lords force ten­ants into one-year leases that al­low them to raise rents at higher-thanal­lowed rates every year be­cause they are tech­ni­cally en­ter­ing a new lease con­tract with the same ten­ant. Robin­son said leg­is­la­tion to fix that loop­hole is com­ing this fall, af­ter for­mer Lib­eral hous­ing min­is­ter Rich Cole­man spent months com­plain­ing it was a com­plex leg­isla­tive change that would take a great deal of time. “It wasn’t so com­pli- cated,” said Robin­son. Lib­eral critic Sam Sullivan said he’s con­cerned to hear Robin­son might be chang­ing the max­i­mum rent rate be­cause the NDP did not cam­paign upon such a prom­ise in the elec­tion. “My un­der­stand­ing of th­ese kinds of things is you have to be very care­ful, econ­o­mists on both the right and left are pretty much unan­i­mous that rent con­trols can have a very neg­a­tive im­pact on rental prop­er­ties (and) the avail­abil­ity of rental prop­er­ties,” he said. “It’s a very pop­u­lar short-term thing to do. But the long-term re­sult can of­ten be quite neg­a­tive.” The real an­swer is to in­crease sup­ply, be­cause the gov­ern­ment can’t leg­is­late its way out of a sup­ply and de­mand is­sue, said Sullivan, a for­mer mayor of Van­cou­ver. The as­so­ci­a­tion rep­re­sent­ing land­lords in the prov­ince said it’s sup­port­ive of Robin­son clos­ing the fixed term lease loop­hole, but that low­er­ing the max­i­mum rent in­crease rate will sim­ply be an­other dis­in­cen­tive to prop­erty devel­op­ers con­sid­er­ing build­ing rental build­ings, who may then de­cide to build con­dos in­stead. “The three big­gest cost driv­ers for our in­dus­try, our taxes, util­i­ties, and in­sur­ance, all our cost are go­ing up by a per­cent­age far greater than the four per cent max­i­mum,” said David Hut­niak, CEO of Land­lord B.C. “We’re ob­vi­ously not in­sen­si­tive about the cur­rent dilemma of the hous­ing and rental hous­ing cri­sis, but the frus­trat­ing part is we’ve been talk­ing about the need for sup­ply for 20-25 years and no­body lis­tened to us. And we were pre­dict­ing the chal­lenges we’re see­ing to­day. And this would be the wrong time to tar­get that spe­cific item.” Source: The Prov­ince

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.