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As living costs surge, tenants dread B.C.'s next inflation-matched rent increase


With annual rent increases tied to inflation in British Columbia, tenant advocates are worried the next hike could force some already-struggling families from their homes.

Canadians across the country are paying more for everything from groceries to gasoline, and Will Gladman of the Vancouver Tenants Union cautioned some renters couldn’t afford a significant increase to their monthly housing costs.

"Everything's going up and up and up," Gladman said. "We would argue the rent increase should be capped at nothing this year, given the expenses that people are already incurring."

Up until 2018, the B.C. government allowed landlords to increase rent by two per cent plus the rate of inflation. The NDP has since decreased the annual hike, tying it to inflation alone, which is calculated using the 12-month average percentage change to the Consumer Price Index, as of the previous July. 

Renters won't know what kind of increase they're facing for 2023 until later this year, but as of April, the 12-month average was at four per cent – which would be the highest increase since the province's new formula took effect.

A four per cent hike would translate to an extra $100 per month for anyone paying $2,500 in rent.


LandlordBC, whose members include everyone from building managers to investment property owners, argued inflationary pressures are impacting housing providers as well, with the costs of insurance, utilities and maintenance also on the rise.

In a statement, CEO David Hutniak noted the sector has already "endured an eviction moratorium during the pandemic and a two-plus-year rent increase freeze."

"The province wants us to invest in the existing rental housing stock and to aggressively build new purpose-built rental to help them achieve their housing goals," Hutniak said.

"While we are willing partners, it is critical that the province respect the legislated (rent increase formula) for 2023. Failure to do so will undermine the rental housing ecosystem, and freeze new rental construction as developers and lenders will lose confidence in B.C. as a dependable jurisdiction to invest."

B.C.'s rent freeze was lifted back in January, letting landlords increase rent by 1.5 per cent. Some have implemented much more dramatic hikes since the start of the pandemic, however, as allowed after an existing renter leaves and is replaced by a new tenant.

A recent report from found people who moved into a Vancouver home in May 2022 paid 20 per cent more, on average, than those who started renting just one year earlier.

Skyrocketing rents have created a precarious situation for vulnerable families, Gladman said.

"Rents just keep climbing out of people's reach, and then there's nowhere for them to go," he said. "Nobody is building anything that's remotely affordable for people with the lowest incomes and fixed incomes – the people most often impacted by bad policy."


Gladman is also a member of the Rent Strike Bargain campaign, which is calling for collective bargaining rights for tenants that would force landlords to negotiate things like rent increases in good faith.

Another one of the campaign's goals is to see B.C. implement a system of vacancy control, which ties rents to a unit, rather than a tenant.

"Vacancy control would make a huge difference to those skyrocketing rent increases. If landlords can't increase rent between tenants, we're not going to see those jumps," Gladman said.

So far, the government has not been responsive to that proposal.

Asked whether the province would consider a lower cap for next year's rent increase, the ministry responsible for housing told CTV News it is "reviewing policy options to continue to support British Columbians."

"We know that things are especially hard right now for people," the ministry wrote in a statement. "We are determined to keep reducing costs for people in B.C including in housing."

Both LandlordBC and the Vancouver Tenants Union argued the province could provide some relief by finally fulfilling its 2017 campaign promise of a $400 renters' rebate.

"We actually suggest they double it and target those in greatest need," Hutniak said. Top Stories

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