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B.C. Greens introduce new bill to protect renters

February 29, 2024
   6 min read
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For immediate release

February 29, 2024

VICTORIA, B.C. – Today, the B.C. Green Caucus introduced the Residential Tenancy Amendment Act, to make housing more affordable and to protect renters. The proposed changes would prevent landlords from unfairly increasing rent when a unit becomes empty. 

In British Columbia, the current practice of allowing landlords to raise rent only for existing tenants often leads to evictions aimed at increasing rents for new tenants. B.C. has the highest eviction rate in Canada, with 10.5% of renters evicted in the last five years, primarily due to ‘no-fault’ reasons.

“Rents in B.C. have become exorbitantly unaffordable for far too many people, and the provincial government has a role to play in solving this crisis,” said Sonia Furstenau, Leader of the B.C. Green Party and MLA for Cowichan Valley. “The policy we’re putting forward ties rent to the unit itself. It would prevent rents from skyrocketing when someone new moves in.

“Comparing the average rent to the average income paints a sad picture for B.C. This government needs to step in as Dave Barrett did in the 1970s to prevent further harm to British Columbians.

One in three residents in British Columbia are renters. Given the ongoing housing crisis in the province, protecting rental rates is a necessary means to protect renters. This measure would help end evictions for profit, increase housing stability for tenants, and preserve affordable housing stock in B.C.

“People are already struggling to pay their rent. When hit with a major rent increase while searching for a new home, many can’t afford it and the next stop is homelessness,” continued Furstenau. 

“We must prioritize renters’ right to housing over investor profits in B.C.’s housing market, as profiteering hurts us all. Consider the ripple effect on our communities. How many neighborhoods struggle to attract essential workers like healthcare professionals, teachers, and tradespeople due to the lack of affordable housing? How many small businesses have been forced to reduce operating hours because of challenges in finding employees?”

Implementing vacancy control, as successfully demonstrated in provinces like Manitoba and countries like Germany, is an immediate tangible solution to address the housing crisis.

Quotes

Amanda Burrows, Executive Director, & Dr. Sarah Marsden, Director of Systems Change and Legal, FIRST UNITED

“Government needs to take bold action now to end the eviction crisis that tenants across BC are facing. Right now, landlords are strongly incentivized to evade rent control by forcing tenant turnover through evictions. Escalating rent means escalating homelessness. Permanent vacancy control will drastically improve conditions for thousands of renters, and actively prevent homelessness in B.C.”

Emma White, Together Against Poverty Society

“Myths proliferated by the development industry and landlord lobby have been used by the BC NDP to justify their inaction on rent control during our worsening eviction and housing affordability crisis. Tenants in B.C. urgently need protection against for-profit eviction and rent gouging, and vacancy control is an evidence-based policy that would provide greater housing stability for renters and help preserve affordable housing stock across the province.”

Quick Facts

  • Vacancy control existed in B.C. from 1974 to 1983 to address concerns about rapidly rising rental costs and housing affordability.
  • In British Columbia, there are more than 660,000 renter households, with 38% spending more than 30% of their income on housing. B.C. leads the country with the highest proportion of renters living in unaffordable conditions.
  • In 2023, minimum-wage workers in Vancouver who rented the average bachelor unit spent over 50% of their monthly income on rent.
  • In Manitoba, where vacancy control has been the law for decades, no noticeable slowdown in rental building construction has been noted as a result.

Background

  • The Rental Housing Task Force rejected vacancy control in its 2018 report, concluding it would have unintended consequences, such as reducing the affordable rental stock or lowering investment into needed repairs.
  • A 2023 BCGEU report examines past and present vacancy control policies in B.C., Ontario, Manitoba and P.E.I. from the 1970s onward and found no evidence that tying rent to the unit had significant negative impacts on new rental housing supply.
  • A UBC report in May 2023 revealed that BC has the highest eviction rate in Canada. 10.5% of BC renters have been evicted in the last 5 years, 85% of these evictions were ‘no-fault., meaning the tenants were evicted for the landlords’ own purposes.
  • Drawing on research and statistical analysis, case law, and legislation from multiple Canadian jurisdictions, First United’s ‘Everyone Needs a Home’ report provides evidence-based recommendations to prevent bad faith and unlawful evictions, including vacancy control.
  • Carnegie Housing Project’s 2024 report warns of a 50% homelessness increase by 2030 in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside due to loss of low-income housing like SROs and modular units; Urges province to implement vacancy control to prevent further loss.

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Media contact
JoJo Beattie
Press Secretary
B.C. Green Caucus
+1 250-882-6187 | jojo.beattie@leg.bc.ca 

 

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