The socioeconomic catastrophe created by COVID-19 has put more regulatory pressure than ever on residential landlords in British Columbia. Residential landlords are an integral part of our economy, and Canadians will rely on them moving forward for the economic activity their industry generates to fund the recovery, and to ensure that a reliable supply of rental housing remains available.
It is more important than ever before for government to recognize the value of private market rental housing. A robust private market ensures consumers have broad choice at the lowest competitive economic price. A stifled and over-regulated private market, and government policies which unfairly shift multi-faceted and complex socioeconomic problems disproportionately onto residential landlords decreases supply, dissuades investment, and ultimately, harms housing affordability.
LandlordBC has, and continues to play, a significant role in advocacy to ensure the legitimate interests of residential landlords are protected. A small sample of LandlordBC’s advocacy efforts in the past several years includes the following:
- The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia released an investigation report setting out mandatory guidance binding on all landlords in British Columbia, which prohibited residential landlords from performing credit checks on prospective tenants. The report was issued with almost no consultation with our industry. Credit checks are perhaps the only objective means of financial verification, and this change threatened to have a broad negative impact, particularly for smaller landlords who have increased exposure to bad debt risk.
- When the acting privacy commissioner who published the investigation report was replaced, LandlordBC was able to consult with the new Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia who issued a replacement report largely reversing the mandatory guidance.
- The City of New Westminster recently enacted a bylaw which “bans” evictions necessary when a building undergoes significant renovation work requiring vacant possession. The implications of this bylaw are broad – it is a form of residential tenancy legislation and threatens to create unintended dual layer regulation of tenancy agreements at both the provincial and municipal level.
- LandlordBC is an intervenor in a court challenge to this bylaw, and submissions were heard in September of this year. LandlordBC is waiting for the Court of Appeal to issue a decision. The result could significantly impact how landlords across the province are regulated.
- LandlordBC continues to advocate strenuously for a measured and fair application of residential rental tenure zoning, and a departure from a practice being adopted by some municipalities which simply acts to downzone residential properties and stifle investment.
- LandlordBC continues to pursue implementation of an improved additional rent increase model for landlords who incur major capital expenditures.
LandlordBC’s strength in advocacy comes from your membership. It allows us to present a powerful, unified voice for the industry, which will be needed more than ever in 2021, and it is now more important than ever that you join. Find out more here.
– Michael Drouillard is vice chair of the board of directors of LandlordBC, and a practising lawyer with Harper Grey LLP.
Information contained in this blog reflects the latest information at our disposal