B.C. boosts enforcement against rule-breaking landlords, tenants
Condos and apartment buildings are seen in downtown Vancouver, B.C., on Thursday February 2, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
CTV News Vancouver
Published Wednesday, May 8, 2019 1:47PM PDT
The B.C. government is boosting enforcement against rule-breaking landlords and tenants alike as it responds to recommendations from the province's Rental Housing Task Force.
On Wednesday, Housing Minister Selina Robinson said the government has already begun following up by creating a new investigative unit at the Residential Tenancy Branch to respond to complaints.
The team currently has 21 active investigations, and has already issued one administrative penalty against a landlord, according to the ministry.
"To make renting work better for everyone, we need to make sure both renters and landlords know their rights under the law and have a place to go when there's an issue with those rights," Robinson said in a statement. "Housing is the foundation of people's lives. We want to create a rental market where there are no surprises, renters and landlords are treated fairly and there is better security for both sides."
The government is responding to the task force's recommendations in three phases. In addition to the new investigative unit, Phase 1 includes an educational campaign to ensure renters and landlords understand their rights, and the creation of a new local government liaison to help address illegal renovictions and other issues on a city-by-city basis.
The second phase includes working with local governments to "develop compensation and relocation guidelines" around demovictions, and the introduction of new policies to help tenants receive their security deposits faster, according to the province.
The plan for Phase 3 involves exploring a ban on rental restrictions in stratas, giving renters the right of first refusal following renovations in their unit, and other issues the government described as more legally complex.
The Rental Housing Task Force was formed last year, and consulted with landlord groups, renters' groups and other interested parties to find solutions to a raft of issues facing rental markets across the province.
It delivered a report with 23 recommendations in December, with ending the process of renovictions – the process of kicking out renters to perform sometimes minor renovations – at the top of the list.
MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert, who was on the task force, said he's pleased with the government's response to their work.
"Renters and landlords told us that, in many cases, problems could have been avoided if people had known their rights and responsibilities," Chandra Herbert said in a statement. "They also told us enforcement was key, as there are people who knowingly break the laws, and only strong enforcement will stop them. I'm glad to see the minister has heard these concerns and taken action."