WATCH: The B.C. government is being urged to cap rent increases at the rate of inflation to make housing more affordable. Tess van Straaten reports.
Alexander Matveev and his young family came to Canada around seven months ago and they’ve struggled to find affordable rental housing.
“Everything in Victoria is pretty expensive!” Matveev says. “The place we were renting was $1,600 for two bedroom, ground floor, not a very nice district, and when we moved out six months later it was $1,800.”
With sky-rocketing rents across the province, B.C.’s rental housing task force is asking the provincial government to reduce the amount of annual rent increases.
“Today, we’re calling for the B.C. government to cut the two per cent that landlords automatically get and instead ask for rents to go up inflation, the cost of living,” NDP MLA and rental housing task force chair Spencer Chandra Herbert says.
For next year, that would mean a 2.5 per cent increase for inflation instead of a 4.5 per cent hike.
The move comes after months of on-line and in person consultations by the NDP/Green task force, which says concerns were raised about the current formula. It’s been in place since 2004 when housing costs were significantly lower.
“It’s not lost on me that people are calling for a rent freeze because they’re in such desperation,” says Chandra Herbert. “We believe this strikes the balance between affordability for renters and the need to maintain properties.”
Landlords will still have the ability to apply for an additional increase above the inflation amount if they can show their costs and maintenance expenses exceed that.
The task force is also recommending the ministry work with landlord and tenant groups to determine the criteria for landlord applications, including whether there would be a cap on additional amounts.
“It’s getting out of control and we’re stepping in and tempering the increase but at the same time we’re ensuring landlords still have access to higher increases if it’s for maintenance or you need a new roof,” explains Green Party leader Andrew Weaver.
It’s the model Ontario and Manitoba have used for the last decade. The B.C. government is expected to make a final decision this week so that, if approved, the new model can take effect January 1, 2019.
The rental housing task force is expected to release its final report and full list of recommendations next month.
As for Matveev, he’s just glad they were finally able to find an affordable one bedroom in James Bay.