The provincial government’s Rental Housing Task Force (RHTF) is recommending a change to the maximum rent increase formula in B.C.
On Sep. 7, the B.C. Residential Tenancy Branch set the maximum allowable rent increase for 2019 at 4.5 per cent, the largest since 2004.
The province says increases allowed each year is the inflation rate plus two per cent.
The inflation is calculated using the 12-month average percentage change in the Consumer Price Index in the province ending in July.
But the RHTF is recommending the government remove the automatic two per cent and set the maximum rent increase formula for inflation only.
That would set the max rental increase for 2019 to 2.5 per cent in B.C.
The task force also recommends giving landlords the opportunity to apply for an additional increase if they can show the formula does not cover maintenance and other costs.
It says the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing should do further work with landlord and tenant groups to determine criteria for determining landlord applications.
The RHTF says the recommendations are based on hearing from British Columbians about rental increase affordability and its review of how other provinces set rent.
“Renters were clear that rent increases that far outstripped cost-of-living increases were becoming increasingly unaffordable, and landlords were clear they needed help to maintain their properties,” RHTF chair Chandra Herbert said in a release.
“Our recommendations follow the approach of Ontario and Manitoba and will keep rent more affordable while ensuring rental homes are maintained and improved.”
The province says Ontario and Manitoba have limited rent increase to inflation.
The task force says during a months-long public consultation process, the yearly rent increase formula was a frequent topic of concern.
The formula was put in place in 2004.
The 4.5 per cent increase announcement came at a time of rising rent and a vacancy rate below one per cent in Victoria.
The province says a decision on the recommendations will be made prior to Oct. 1.
The RHTF plans to release a full-recommendations report on residential tenancy improvements later this fall.