Changes to the Residential Tenancy Act Announced Today
In early 2018, Premier John Horgan appointed a Rental Housing Task Force to advise on how to improve security and fairness for landlords and tenants throughout the province. In December 2018, the Rental Housing Task Force issued a list of recommendations: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/app/uploads/sites/121/2018/12/RHTF-Recommendations-and-WWH-Report_Dec2018_FINAL.pdf
Today, the BC Government announced some changes to the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) that are based on the recommendations of the Rental Housing Task Force.
WHAT HAS ALREADY CHANGED?
Rent Freeze Extended
The freeze on annual rent increases has been extended until December 31, 2021. Annual rent increase notices issued with an effective date after March 31, 2021 and before January 1, 2022 are cancelled. This means the earliest a tenant can see a rent increase is January 2022.
The rent increase freeze does not apply to non-profit housing where rent is based on income.
WHAT WILL CHANGE ON JULY 1st?
Landlords will no longer be able to issue a notice to end tenancy for renovations and repairs. A notice to end for renovations or repairs that is issued to a tenant after July 1st, is not valid.
Instead, landlords will need to apply to the RTB for an order to end tenancy and an order of possession.
In their application to end a tenancy for renovations and repairs, landlords must show that:
- they have all the necessary permits and approvals required for the renovations or repairs;
- the unit must be vacant in order to carry out the repairs;
- the renovations or repairs are necessary to prolong or sustain the use of the rental unit or building; and
- no reasonable accommodations can be made to maintain the tenancy
The landlord will need to serve the notice of hearing on the tenant, who will be able to participate in the hearing and provide evidence that the landlord does not meet the statutory requirements to end the tenancy.
Successful landlords will receive an order of possession with an effective date of no earlier than 4 months from the date of the order.
Bad faith evictions
Landlords who are evicting tenants for the purposes of renovations or repairs, or for a family member moving in must intend in good faith to do the things stated in their application to end the tenancy. If they don’t do what they said they were going to do, a tenant can apply to the RTB for compensation that is the equivalent to 12 months’ rent. Previously, the onus was on the tenant in the application to prove that the landlord did not do what they stated they would do on the eviction notice, which was very difficult to do. As of July 1st, the onus will now be on the landlord to prove they did what they said they would instead of the tenant.
Additional rent increase
Landlords will be able to apply to the RTB for dispute resolution to request a modest additional rent increase for capital expenditures. Eligible expenditures are those that are made to maintain the property to comply with health and safety standards, to replace a major system that is no longer operative or is at the end of its useful life, or to reduce energy use, greenhouse gas emissions or improve the security of the property.
The additional rent increase:
- is capped at 3% per year, but it can be rolled over for up to 3 years;
- must be given within the year and combined with annual increase amount; and
- can be done only once in 18 months. Only one additional rent increase can be in effect at one time.
Tenants will be able to participate in the hearing and provide evidence that the landlord does not meet the statutory requirements for an additional rent increase.
WHAT FURTHER CHANGES ARE COMING?
Expanding Grounds for Review Consideration
If a landlord or tenant disagrees with an RTB decision, either party can apply to the RTB to have that decision reviewed. The grounds for review have been expanded to include:
- Due to circumstances that were outside a party’s control and not anticipated, the party submitted evidence after the deadline to submit evidence but before the hearing and that evidence was not before the RTB arbitrator;
- A procedural error was made a person who performs administrative tasks for the RTB that affected the result of the hearing;
- A technical irregularity or error occurred that affected the result of the hearing;
- The RTB arbitrator did not determine an issue they were required to determine; and
- The director determined an issue they were not able to determine.
The already existing grounds for review of an RTB decision will also change. A party can request a review of an RTB decision if they were unable to attend part of the hearing instead of unable to attend the entire hearing. Parties who request a review on the grounds of new and relevant evidence must also demonstrate the evidence would have some effect on the decision.
The RTB will also have the authority to review their decisions on their own initiative, rather than waiting for a landlord or tenant to file for review themselves.
These changes to the grounds for review of RTB decisions also apply to parties who receive a notice of administrative penalty from the Compliance and Enforcement Unit (CEU).
Greater Authority for the CEU to Pursue Investigations
The CEU will be able to compel a party to produce different types of materials, including records from a third party who have information that might be relevant to the investigation, but are not a part of the investigation themselves.