Task force report submitted to help renters and landlords in B.C

A task force has made several recommendations to modernize and improve British Columbia’s overheated rental market, in a report that one non-profit group says strikes a balance between the rights of tenants and landlords.

The Housing Ministry says in a news release that the Rental Housing Task Force submitted 23 recommendations, which include ways to deal with so-called renovictions and making renting more secure.

A task force in British Columbia has set out 23 recommendations to help renters and landlords. Photo by dwegner via Panoramio.
A task force in British Columbia has set out 23 recommendations to help renters and landlords. Photo by dwegner via Panoramio.

The recommendations also address enforcement of rules, laws, penalties, and housing supply.

Adam Olsen, a Green party MLA and task force member, says they wanted to provide recommendations that recognized the need for protections for renters, while giving landlords the ability to make decisions about their properties.

BC Non-Profit Housing Association says the recommendations offer a robust framework for ensuring that tenancy laws and processes in the province are fair for both renters and landlords.

However, Liberal municipal affairs critic Todd Stone says in a statement that there is nothing in the recommendations to increase housing supply, which is one of the fundamental problems facing struggling renters.

The task force travelled to 11 communities around B.C., received more than 430 written submissions and another 1,400 responses to its online survey.

Housing Minister Selina Robinson says the province is already seeing improvements in the rental market after steps taken by the government earlier this year.

“This report identifies ways we could further improve the rental housing system that many British Columbians rely on,” she says.

The government chopped the annual rent increase that landlords are allowed to charge by two per cent, and as of January the rent hike will be limited to 2.5 per cent per year.

A speculation and vacancy tax was also introduced by the government in October to moderate the overheated housing market and create more homes for renters.

Finance Minister Carole James said then that the aim of the tax is to improve housing affordability for thousands of people, including seniors forced to live in their vehicles and young professionals who leave the province because they can’t find a place to live.

The tax, which passed in the fall session, is calculated at rates of 0.5 per cent, one per cent or two per cent of assessed value of empty homes in core, urban centres, with the highest rate applied to foreign owners and so-called satellite families.

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