British Columbia has introduced new legislation that will close what lawmakers call a major loophole to rent control.
Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Selina Robinson announced that the legislation will prohibit landlords from using a “vacate” clause to essentially terminate the lease, and then renew with the same tenant for higher rent.
The new rules will provide that rent increases for the same tenant must stay within the annual guidelines by restricting termination of leases.
The Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre has indicated that eliminating the practice of terminating and then renewing leases is a priority for the agency. LandlordBC also has given support to the legislation, according to a release from the ministry.
If passed, the new rules will apply to both new and existing tenancy agreements. However, there likely will be some exceptions where landlords can enforce a termination clause, such as:
When landlords need to take possession on a certain date;
Tenants who are subletting and plan to return on a specific date;
The landlord has entered into a tenancy agreement with a new tenant; or
The tenant has been evicted but has not yet moved out.
In addition to limits on termination, the new rules will make it easier for tenants to get their deposits back. Through an expedited process, a tenant may demand return of the deposit within three weeks.
Earlier this year, the government took steps to reduce wait times for dispute resolution, and established oversight to take action against landlords and tenants who are repeat or egregious offenders, according to a statement.
Each year, the B.C. Residential Tenancies Branch receives more than 20,000 applications for dispute resolution.
Proposed penalties for violation of the new rules include the right to make public any penalties assessed against specific landlords, and the inability to pursue dispute resolution if penalties are owed.
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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.