A legal advocate in Williams Lake is sounding the alarm after learning some of his clients have received rent increase notices for 2019 in the amount of four per cent.
Matt Granlund, who works with the Women’s Contact Society around issues of residential tenancy and income assistance, said the rate had been previously set at four per cent, but was lowered to the inflation rate of 2.5 per cent for 2019 by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing in September of this year.
“The minister agreed to limit the maximum allowable increase after receiving push back,” Granlund told the Tribune Friday. “It was announced to the public on Sept. 26 so there has been ample warning for everybody.”
Granlund warned there is a possibility of “confusion, inertia and ignorance” and some landlords are going to try and charge the four per cent.
“I have two examples of that happening already so it’s an education thing that needs to get out there for tenants and landlords that landlords cannot legally charge anything above 2.5 per cent and they cannot round up. Tenants need to know that if they receive a notice for the four per cent that it can be given back to the landlord who must provide a new form.”
Rental increases in B.C. can only happen once every 12 months, he added, noting they must be given with the approved form which is available on the Residential Tenancy Branch website.
“There is a formula on the sheet where the tenant can calculate and work out the percentage of the increase,” Granlund added.
Rental increase notices must also be given three months in advance, however, if landlords are reducing a four per cent notice back to 2.5 there is an exception.
Granlund encouraged any tenants that have received a rental increase notice in excess of 2.5 per cent to exercise their rights.
“A tenant does not have to pay an increase that is higher than the amount allowed by law,” he explained. “Instead the tenant can give the landlord documents showing the allowable amount or apply for dispute resolution asking for an order that the landlord comply with the law, as long as the increase wasn’t granted through dispute resolution.”
The public information toll-free line is 1-800-665-8779 or the website is www.gov.bc.ca/landlordtenant for online information.