The provincial government has set the 2024 rent increase to a maximum of 3.5 per cent in B.C., which it says is below inflation for the second year in a row.
For 2023, the rent increase was capped at two per cent, so the maximum allowable increase for 2024 is 1.5 per cent higher than the year prior.
“Across the country, costs have been increasing – especially for housing – at a rate that’s unsustainable for many people,” said Ravi Kahlon, minister of housing. “We know that’s the case for both landlords and renters, and that’s why we’ve found a balance to protect renters while helping to keep rental units on the market.”
The government says the 12-month average inflation was 5.6 per cent, meaning the increase is still below that rate.
The new maximum amount comes into effect on Jan. 1, 2024, and landlords must provide three months notice to tenants. Rent can only be increased in B.C. every 12 months.
In a release, the government says prior to 2018, the annual rent increase rate was set at inflation plus two per cent, then for the past two years the government has set the rate below inflation. The two years before that, rents were frozen due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, this may only be a short-lived policy as the government says it plans to return to setting the rent increase to be tied to B.C.’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) in future years when “inflation returns to normal levels.”
For those who struggle to make ends meet, any type of increase can be the difference between having a stable home or trying to find a cheaper place to live in a challenging housing market.
Douglas King from Victoria’s Together Against Poverty Society helps those in the community with residential tenancy disputes.
“We see this as a half measure by the government to try and split the difference. This is not what we need though. What we really need is to start controlling rent in between tenancies that’s what really matters, that’s again what’s missing today,” said King.
This announcement from the government comes at a time when landlords are playing catch up with inflation due to the rent increase freeze that was put in place in 2020 and 2021 to support renters during the COVID-19 pandemic.
CEO for Landlords BC, David Hutniak, realizes that renters do need support, but he does not want it to come at the cost of landlords.
“We really wanted to see the CPI increase which was 5.6 per cent. That would’ve allowed for a little more catch up for the past handful of years. They want to help renters which we get but they are doing it largely at the expense of landlords,” said Hutniak.
The government also provided the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) with $15.6 million dollars in additional funding to improve services and reduce delays. The capacity of the RTB’s Compliance and Enforcement Unit was also increased to allow for earlier interventions and to eliminate the need for hearings.