Landlords in British Columbia will not be allowed to increase rent in December as previously announced by the Province.
In March 2020, the Province ordered a freeze on rent increases due to the pandemic. Subsequent emergency orders had slated rent increases to begin December 1, 2020 for landlords who had provided the mandatory three months’ notice.
However, lawmakers now have extended the freeze on rent increases beyond that December 2020 deadline to July 10, 2021.
The July date coincides with a deadline set for tenants to pay back outstanding rent and utilities under a pandemic repayment plan. The freeze is due in part to the swearing in of a new provincial cabinet and was ordered under the Emergency Program Act.
“We know many renters are still facing income loss and even the slightest increase in rent could be extremely challenging,” says the British Columbia Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “We are all in this together, and it is important for both renters and landlords that people can stay in their homes.”
The allowable rent increase for 2021, which takes effect July 10, is set at 1.4%. Landlords cannot combine 2020 and 2021 rent increases. Rent increase notices set to begin anytime between March 30, 2020 to July 9, 2021 are no longer valid, and tenants are being told to disregard such rent increase notices. Any tenants who pay an unauthorized rent increase are entitled to deduct that amount from future rent payments.
The 1.4% rent increase for 2021 is less than half of what landlords could have expected in previous years, according to a statement by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Previously, British Columbia rent increases were calculated by adding two percentage points to the rate of inflation. But the Province changed the calculation to the rate of inflation to track with the annual rent increase guidelines in Ontario and Manitoba.
In addition to following the allowable rent increase, landlords are reminded that notice of a rent increase must be provided three full months before the increase is to take effect. For example, landlords who use July 15 as a rent due date must provide notice prior to April 15. But if rent is due at the first of each month, notice must be given prior to May 1, 2021 to enforce a rent increase on August 1, 2021. Generally, landlords can increase rent only once per year.
The required rent increase notice form and additional information can be found at the Residential Tenancy Branch.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.