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B.C. to ban some 'personal use' evictions, stop rent increases over new children

Legislation introduced Tuesday would force landlords who use the 'personal use' rule to live in the unit for a year before listing it for rent again.
Premier David Eby announces legislation that will return short-term rentals to long-term homes for people during a press conference in the rotunda at the legislature in Victoria, Monday, Oct. 16, 2023. The British Columbia government is making changes to rental laws, stopping bad-faith evictions, protecting families who add a child and helping landlords who have problematic tenants. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government is changing rental laws to stop bad-faith evictions, protect families who have had a child and help landlords with problematic tenants. 

Premier David Eby said the government is seeing more landlords invoke the "personal use" rule, which allows them or their family to move into a unit, as an excuse to evict long-term tenants paying lower rents.

"We also know that there's a significant number of people in the province that are paying below market rents, they're protected by our limits on rent increases," Eby said.

"There is a huge temptation on the part of some landlords to evict those tenants and replace them with another tenant who would be paying a much higher market rate."

Legislation introduced Tuesday would force landlords who use the rule to live in the unit for a year before listing it for rent again, and require owners to use a new web portal to generate eviction notices for personal use cases, so the government can collect data on how often these evictions happen.

The new legislation would ban evictions for personal use in purpose-built rental buildings that have five or more units.

The legislation will also increase the amount of time a tenant has to dispute a personal-use eviction to 30 days

Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon said people on fixed incomes, like seniors, can be at risk of homelessness if they are forced out of their low-rent units and have to search for a new place.

"It's a real concern that we're seeing more seniors being evicted from long term tenancies who are finding themselves trying to get in the market and finding only very expensive affordable units available for them," he said.

"And many of them finding themselves in very precarious housing situations because of it."

If passed, the laws will also prohibit landlords from increasing rent just because a child has been added to a household, even if the tenancy agreement says rent will increase when there's a new occupant. 

The government is also promising to clarify the criteria for evicting problematic tenants and "flexibility" in addressing those cases.

In addition, the province is resolving rental disputes faster, with wait times at the Residential Tenancy Branch reduced from 10.5 weeks in February 2023 to five weeks this February. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 2, 2024.

The Canadian Press