EDITORIAL: Changes would bring stability to B.C. renters

EDITORIAL: Changes would bring stability to B.C. renters

MLA task force calls for more protection for the province’s renters

An MLA task force is calling for more protection for the province’s renters. And with a vacancy rate hovering at just over one per cent and average rents climbing by more than $100 a month over the past year, the news couldn’t be more welcome for Capital Region residents who aren’t able to afford a home of their own.

The task force – made up of Saanich North and the Islands MLA Adam Olsen, Ronna-Rae Leonard of Courtenay-Comox and Vancouver-West End MLA Spencer Chandra-Herbert – said the rules governing evictions to renovate a rental property need to be strengthened.

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“One of most frequently mentioned challenges from renters was unfair evictions, including renovictions and other evictions, based on false claims,” the MLAs wrote in their report to the B.C. government. “They told the task force about how stressful it was to live with the constant threat of being forced from their home with too little time to find alternative housing in a challenging rental market.”

The report calls for changes to the Residential Tenancy Act that would allow tenants to remain in their homes during renovations as long as they are willing to accommodate construction. And with rental properties so hard to come by, it is likely a sizable portion of renters would put up with quite a bit to avoid being forced out into an ultra-competitive market.

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The task force has already brought some financial relief for B.C. renters. The government adopted its recommendation back in September to limit annual rental increases to the rate of inflation. That change means landlords will be able to increase rents by 2.5 per cent in 2019, as opposed to the 4.5 per cent that would have been permitted under the previous formula.

The NDP’s election promise of a $400 grant for B.C. renters has yet to materialize. But the task force’s recommendation could prove even more valuable to those British Columbians who are most vulnerable to changing market conditions.

The provincial government should move quickly to adopt these latest recommendations that can offer a little more certainty to residents forced to plan for their future on a month-to-month basis.