Renters in British Columbia could see the largest increase in the cost of housing in more than a decade.

In 2019, landlords in the province will be allowed to raise rents by a maximum of 4.5 per cent -- the largest allowable jump since 2004 -- sparking widespread concern about affordability. 

“My wage hasn’t gone up for years. But the cost of living keeps going up,” Meaghan Tod said.

Tod said the potential increase could translate into paying her landlord an extra $75 a month.

“I think it’s really scary,” she said.

The B.C. government calculates how much landlords can hike rent prices in a given year by taking the rate of inflation and adding two per cent.

A group representing landlords in the province insists the rent increase is fair and appropriate when the costs for providing rental housing have also gone up.

“Property taxes, utilities, insurance are increasing by double digits. So 4.5 per cent isn't enough to cover it,” said David Hutniak, CEO of Landlord BC.

“We’re not insensitive to what’s going on. The harsh reality is our costs are increasing and in order for us to provide housing, to maintain it to healthy and safe levels, it requires continued investment.”

Hutniak said there is no quick fix, adding the provincial government needs to take action by creating tax benefits for renters and create more supply in the market.

“We need to get all levels of government involved to help us build purpose-built rentals,” he said.

‘We’re already in a housing crisis’: Rent hike draws criticism 

A Vancouver city council candidate would like to see the province rescind the rent increase.

“We’re already in a state of emergency and another 4.5 per cent on top of that is just unacceptable,” Derrick O’Keefe said.

O’Keefe said it is possible for municipalities to take action through city bylaws.

“When [landlords] come to apply for a licence or renew one, we can simply insist they don’t increase the rent.”

The province is currently reviewing rent control and whether the formula for calculating hikes should be changed.

“Westruck a rental housing task force back in the spring because we know we need to make sure we have a fair system for landlords and tenants,” Housing Minister Selina Robinson said.

The group visited 11 communities and will provide recommendations to the B.C. government in the fall.

In protest of the increase, the Vancouver Tenants Union is holding a rally Thursday in front of Landlord BC’s office.



To see how your rent could possibly change next year, the B.C. government has a rent increase calculator.

With files from Bhinder Sajan