As the cost of living continues to rise, the British Columbia government has made the decision to set the rent increase below the inflation rate. The maximum rent increase in BC for 2024 is 3.5%. This is up 1.5% from last year but below the 12-month average inflation rate of 5.6%. The cap applies to any increase on or after January 1, 2024.
How Rent Increases Changed in BC?
Before 2018, rent increases were limited to inflation plus two percent. Thanks to recommendations from the Rental Housing Task Force, increases were reduced to just the rate of inflation. In 2019, the rental increase cap decreased from 4.5% to 2.5% to reflect the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
In 2020 and 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, a rent increase freeze was put into place by the province.
In 2022, the rent increase limit was 1.5%, and in 2023, a 2% cap was applied to protect renters from rising inflation.
Moving into 2024, the maximum rent increase in BC is capped at 3.5%, the highest it’s been since 2018.
As inflation begins to normalize, the province is expected to return to an annual increase tied to B.C.’s Consumer Price Index.
The Residential Tenancy Act (RTA)
The BC Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) is the provincial law that outlines landlords and renter’s rights and responsibilities. The purpose of the RTA document is to protect renters and to ensure tenants and landlords are aware of the rules. It includes information about the maximum rent tenants can be charged, and how much notice landlords need to provide before increasing rent prices or asking a tenant to move out.
For landlords, the RTA outlines rules for what needs to be done to properly maintain a rental property. It also provides rules for how to respect rental tenants.
What is Rent Control?
Rent control is meant to restrict out-of-control rental increases that would push low and moderate-income tenants out of the market. With the average price of a one-bedroom rental sitting at nearly $3,000 per month in cities like Vancouver and Burnaby, the market is already unaffordable for many. However, current renters can rest a little easier knowing that their annual rent increase is capped.
In provinces and territories without rent control, landlords can increase home rental prices once every 12 months and generally must provide between one and three months’ notice before raising the rent. However, there is no cap on how much they can raise the rent.
In rent-controlled provinces and territories, including BC, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, and Yukon, the provincial or territorial governments set a maximum amount that landlords can increase the monthly rent each year.
Do Maximum Rent Increases in BC Help?
While a rent cap can prevent landlords from taking advantage of their tenants, it really only helps current renters. For new tenants, a landlord can set the rent at whatever price they want. For instance, if a renter vacates a rental property, the landlord can list the property at a much higher price. They don’t have to follow the same 3.5% cap when it comes to a new tenant.
What to do if You Can’t Afford Your Rent
Hopefully, if you miss a rent payment, your landlord will give you a chance to make it up. However, your landlord can take you to court for multiple missed or late payments.
In BC, if you don’t make your full rent or utility payment on time, landlords can serve you with the “10-Day Notice to End Tenancy.” This notice gives you five days to pay your full bill, or you have to move out by the time stated on the document. It’s called the “10-Day Notice” because it becomes effective 10 days after you receive it.
To avoid losing your home, consider the following resources and actions:
- Use a BC Rent Bank: A rent bank is a resource available to low and moderate-income renters going through short-term crises and struggling to pay their rent. Rent banks offer financial assistance as well as support services.
- Check eligibility for RAP. The Rental Assistance Program (RAP), is available to eligible low-income working families in BC. The purpose is to assist with monthly rent payments. To qualify, you must have a household income of $40,000 or less (before taxes), have been working at some point in the previous year, and have at least one dependent child.
- Negotiate with your landlord. See if your landlord is willing to let you work off your rent. Can you paint, do yard work, or do home repairs to pay off a portion of your rent that month?
- Ask friends and family. While it can be uncomfortable for people to ask their loved ones for money, consider reaching out to your network.
- Speak to a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT). An LIT is a debt expert who can assess your financial situation and help you find a solution to get back on track. Licensed Insolvency Trustees can offer the widest range of debt solutions, including credit counselling, Consumer Proposals, and Bankruptcies.
Speak to a Licensed Insolvency Trustee Today
If you’re in a position where you’re struggling to pay rent or you can no longer afford it, you aren’t alone. Recent statistics from the Canadian Rental Housing Index report that 16% of BC renters are spending over 50% of their household income on rent alone. But, the situation is not hopeless.
Whether you need assistance learning how to create a household budget to help you stay on track, or you require a Consumer Proposal or Bankruptcy to find relief, an LIT can help. Reach out to one of our trusted LITs at Allan Marshall and Associates for a free, no-obligation consultation. You can call us at 1-888-371-8900, or book a consultation online.