Here’s what your landlord can and can’t do with a rental increase in B.C.

Tenants need to be aware of what's legal and what isn't, and advocate for themselves to avoid overpaying

On Sept. 26, Premier John Horgan announced that the government would accept the recommendations that were made from the province’s rental housing task force.

As a result, the annual allowable rental increase for landlords in 2019 will be set at 2.5 per cent, or the rate of inflation. Previously, the plan was to increase the amount to 4.5 per cent, which caused an uproar.

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With that in mind, a number of landlords issued their tenants the 4.5 per cent rental increase, rather than the amended amount. Of course, tenants are not responsible for fixing the amount issued; however, they may have to bring it to their landlord’s attention. If they don’t, they might end up paying much more than they should.

What is legal?

A tenant should also be familiar with what is legal during an annual rental increase. For one, a landlord may only increase rent once per year. Further, the landlord may only increase the rent 12 months after the date that the existing rent was established with the tenant.

Similarly, they may only increase rent 12 months after the date of the last legal rent increase for the tenant, even if there is a new landlord or a new tenant by way of an assignment.

Before the year has passed, landlords must provide tenants with three full rental months’ notice of a rent increase. As such, it isn’t OK for them to raise your rent after a year’s time unless they provide adequate notice before doing so.

In addition, landlords must give tenants a copy of one of the completed government forms when they issue the increase. In other words, they can’t jot it out on a sticky note and leave it on your door, or send it via carrier pigeon.

What if they already issued me a rental increase of 4.5 per cent? 

While they still need to honour the new 2.5 per cent maximum increase, whatever date they added for your next increase, if legal, will remain. In other words, if they issued you the notice in September, then your rent increase will come into effect as of January 1st, 2019.

With that being said, they should issue you a new form with the percentage increase of no more than 2.5 per cent, or add an amendment to the old one and provide you with a copy. If they fail to do so, or refuse to reduce the percentage increase, then you will have to file a case with the Residential Tenancy Branch for a dispute resolution.

Visit the Residential Tenancy Branch for more information.

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