Rent Freeze Extended, Pending Increases Cancelled

While we now effectively have the final results of the October 24, 2020 provincial election (subject to one recount), we congratulate Mr. Horgan and the BC NDP on their securing a majority government.  We look forward to continuing to constructively collaborate with the government to deliver safe, secure, sustainable rental housing for British Columbians.

In our last member exclusive e-newsletter we advised that during the campaign the BC NDP indicated that they would extend the rent increase freeze that was in effect during the COVID-19 period, through to the end of 2021.  We also noted at the time that there was a subsequent indication during the campaign that the previously communicated December 1, 2020 rent increase would be renounced.  We had at that time, through our channels, voiced our concern to the BC NDP indicating that such a decision would be harmful to our sector and, ultimately, renters.  At that time we also knew that in order for the December 1, 2020 rent increase to be renounced a new regulation would be required and, in light of the delayed final determination of the results, it was unlikely that a new regulation could be put in place in time (we were also reasonably certain that a retroactive renouncement was not likely).  As a result, we had to wait to see what the government’s course of action would be.

As you can see in the press release here, the course of action that is being taken by the government is as follows:

The rent increase freeze will be extended through December 2020 thereby negating the previously announced increase effective December 1, 2020. This rent increase freeze is in fact an extension of the current rent increase freeze under the COVID-19 Related Measures Act*.  The Act is only in effect for one year (assented July 8th).  That means that as it stands today, this rent increase freeze will expire in July 2021.

Needless to say, this decision is very concerning. Our sector is on a negative financial trajectory and we need support for rental property owners.  While not insensitive to the challenges many renters have faced during the pandemic, the reality is that our sector has also been challenged with significant disruptions, risks and costs as a result of the pandemic.  The uncertainties related to the pandemic will continue to cloud the future of our sector for some time to come.  Moreover, in the absence of rent increases for existing tenancies to better cover cost inflation like taxes, utilities, insurance, maintenance, etc., our financial challenges will be further exacerbated and threatens our ability to ensure British Columbian’s have continued access to a safe, secure, sustainable rental housing.

As the leading voice for owners and managers of rental housing in British Columbia,  LandlordBC will continue to advocate on behalf of our members and the broader sector to ensure the government understands and responds appropriately to our concerns.  Know that by helping rental property owners the government is ultimately helping renters.

What you need to know now:

Is my rent increase cancelled or just delayed?
Rent increases served with an effective date of April 1, 2020 to the end of 2020 are cancelled, additionally rent increases through to July 2021 are cancelled. As more information becomes available LandlordBC will keep you informed as to the status of increases for 2021.

What do I do if my tenant pays the increase based on a previously served notice that has been cancelled by the government order?
You should reach out to tenant to ensure they are aware of the changes and come to an agreement on how to deal with the overpayment. The simplest solution is to have the tenant deduct the overpayment from the next month’s rent or to simply pay the tenant back.

If the tenant pays the rent increase is that not an agreement to the increase?
The payment of an increase does not constitute the acceptance of the increase and a tenant that makes an overpayment can recoup that overpayment by reducing their next rent payment or applying for a monetary order.

We will be providing additional information to our members as it becomes available via our member exclusive e-newsletter. In the interim visit the RTB website.