BC addresses ‘bad faith evictions’ and bans rent increases for having babies

The British Columbia government has proposed new tenancy protections designed to prevent some “unfair rent increases” and “bad faith evictions,” officials announced Tuesday.

Amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act include new restrictions on landlord-use evictions and measures to prevent landlords from increasing rent when tenants bring a new baby, or any child under 19, into their home.

“We know that the vast majority of landlords and tenants are respecting the rules,” Premier David Eby said at a news conference in Victoria. “But this is not always the case and, unfortunately, the reality is that we must continue to take action.”

One of the key issues the amendments aim to address is landlords evicting tenants under false pretenses, a problem that advocates say has skyrocketed since the province cracked down on so-called “renovations” in 2021.

“There are a significant number of people in the province paying below-market rents,” Eby said. “They are protected by our limits on rent increases, and there is enormous temptation on the part of some landlords to evict those tenants and replace them with another tenant who would pay a much higher market rate.”

The NDP government’s proposal would ban landlord-use evictions entirely from purpose-built rental buildings with at least five units.

It would also increase the amount of notice a landlord must provide before evicting a personal use tenant, and would increase the amount of time the landlord must occupy the space after such an eviction from six months to 12 months.

Another measure would require landlords to use a government web portal to generate a landlord-use eviction notice, which would inform them of penalties for misuse, standardize the notices themselves, and allow for “post-eviction compliance audits,” according to the ministry. accommodation.

Protections for parents could also save some families thousands of dollars a year.

Eby pointed to a recent case of a British Columbia couple who were told their rent would increase by $600 a month after the birth of their child.

“The legislature will address those issues, making sure that if you have a child and you are a renter, you will not see a significant increase in rent,” Eby said.

Landlords could still increase new parents’ rent by the allowable annual amount determined by the province, which was set at 3.5 per cent in 2024, but no more.

Andrew Sakamoto of the Tenant Resource Advisory Center says he’s glad the government is taking action, but would have liked to see “more.”

Sakamoto says the government has done well to crack down on “renovations” and hopes the new rules will affect the exemption for personal use. However, he believes more protection is needed against all forms of eviction.

“Let’s make landlords present evidence to the residential leasing branch and prove their case if they want to evict their tenant,” Sakamoto said. “We need to change the load. Reverse the burden, work a little harder to evict a tenant.”

Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon noted that the government has also been working to help landlords, including by increasing staffing in the Residential Leasing Division so disputes can be resolved more quickly.

Overall wait times have been cut by more than half since November 2022, according to the province, and there has been an even greater reduction in unpaid rent cases, which can now undergo an expedited process.

“We’re seeing a 57 percent drop in wait times for unpaid rent, which is substantial and very important,” Kahlon said.

A landlord advocate tells CTV News he’s disappointed with the province’s announcement.

“So we’re just asking for justice and equality,” said Baldeep Jhand, founder of the British Columbia Homeowners’ Rights Association. “But the government continues to do things to keep tenants happy. “That’s all they’re doing.”

Jhand says the Province is not using its power to protect landlords who have suffered financially at the hands of bad faith tenants who refuse to pay rent or damage rental property.

The previously announced Monetary Judgment Enforcement Act will also take effect next year and will make it easier for people who win lease dispute hearings to get the money they are owed, officials said.

With files from CTV News Vancouver’s Kevin Charach

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