Rent increases have been capped in the province of BC since 2004. The usual method to determine the cap for the upcoming calendar year was to take the current average rate of inflation and add 2%.
In 2019, that would have allowed a 4.5% increase.
The NDP government has removed the additional 2%, so the maximum allowable increase will be set at the rate of inflation, 2.5%.
“It’s simply not sustainable for renters, many of whom are on fixed incomes, to see their rent increase by more than inflation each and every year,” said Premier John Horgan in a media release. “We have to eliminate the risk of such huge increases for renters. Our new approach strikes a balance between giving relief to renters while encouraging people to maintain their rental properties.”
As a result of eliminating the additional 2 per cent increase, the government says people living in a $1,200 per month apartment, which is the average rent in B.C., could save up to $288 in 2019 over what they could have paid under the old formula.
People in an average two-bedroom apartment in Vancouver could have faced paying up to $432 more over the course of the year.
“We recognize supply is key to bringing down rental costs in the long term, but renters have told us they are hurting and need help today,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing in a release.
“That’s why we are taking careful steps to address the housing crisis and ease the pressure on renters, while also making sure that landlords have the tools they need to continue to invest in their rental properties.”
The proposed change would bring B.C. in line with Ontario and Manitoba. The task force also recommended that the province give landlords the ability to apply for an additional increase if they can show the formula would not cover maintenance and other costs, as is the case in other Provinces with rent control.
In Ontario, landlords can apply for an "Above Guideline Rent Increase” under certain circumstances, including if the landlord’s taxes increased by an “extraordinary” amount, the landlord did significant repairs or the landlord’s costs for security services increased.
Above-guideline increases for repairs or security services are capped at a maximum of 3 per cent above the guideline in any one year. There is no limit on the percentage rent increase above the guideline allowed for an extraordinary increase in taxes or utilities.
The province of Alberta is looking at implementing their first rent control program in 2019.
Full recommendations for BC are expected to be released in November of this year.
Vancouver councillors have officially finished two days of public hearings by voting to allow duplexes in most city neighbourhoods that are currently restricted to single-family homes.
The decision is another step toward adding homes in the city for young families pushed out of the Vancouver market by soaring property prices.
A press release from the mayor's office says the policy change will allow duplexes on approximately 67,000 single family lots, offering more affordable options than detached homes.
The 7-4 vote was split along Mayor Robertson, five Vision Vancouver members and councillor Hector Bremner approving the motion, while three Non-Partisan Association councillors and the Green party's Adriane Carr voted against it.
Robertson said the duplex proposal is not a ``silver bullet'' that will resolve Vancouver's housing problems, but says it responds to the demands of residents.
``Over the past two years of consultation for the new Housing Vancouver strategy, we heard loud and clear that Vancouverites want more housing options in single family neighbourhoods,'' he says in the release.
The change aligns zoning in expensive and increasingly unpopulated neighbourhoods such as Kerrisdale, Dunbar and West Point Grey with regulations in crowded and growing areas such as Kitsilano and Strathcona.
Robertson says the policy is a ``modest, but important change.''
As a way to reduce speculation on land values, the mayor's office says the new policy does not allow for an increase in height or density on a single-family property, but it says other measures to add density are being planned.
``Further work is underway as part of the Making Room program to bring forward options for rowhouses, townhouses, and low-rise apartments- with a priority on rental housing and co-ops in low-density neighbourhoods,'' the release states.
That report could potentially be brought to council by next summer.
PREP YOUR CONDO!
It’s never easy to say goodbye to summer. As the days get shorter and the leaves start to change colour and turn to red and gold, it’s a reminder that winter is just around the corner. But fall can be one of the nicest times of year, and it’s a good time to make some changes, especially around your condo.
The start of fall signifies impending change for a lot of people — school is starting and the new year is just a few months away. In order to be ready for the changes that lie ahead, I thought I’d come up with some tips to help you prepare your condo for the coming season.
BRING STUFF IN!
You might want to consider bringing in your patio furniture for the coming months. If you are going to keep your furniture outside, give it a good wipe down with warm, soapy water to get rid of the summer build up and think about purchasing some canvas covers to protect it from the elements.
Next you’ll want to deal with your plants. If you’ve been growing a balcony garden or keeping flowers all summer, now is a good time to trim them back, cover them up and find a place to store them inside.
It’s good to remember that with the fluctuating temperature, things made of glass or ceramic can shatter in the cold so you’ll want to be sure that everything breakable is indoors.
Finally, make sure your drain is clean and free of debris and build up, and keep a hard bristled broom to keep the wet leaves or snow from piling up in front of your door.