VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Every renter is used to seeing their cost of living rise every year, but when Renee Mellody received her notice last fall, she was shocked.
The psychiatric nurse lives with her partner and her two 12-year-old daughters saw her landlord wanted to increase the rent by more than $300.
“Somewhere between 25 and 30 per cent,” Mellody said. “And then she said, ‘You have three days to sign this.’ We, of course, weren’t going to sign anything. The allowable for 2018 is four per cent.”
Mellody is one of an estimated 1.5 million renters across BC, who may want to have their voices heard as the province launches a new task force to scrutinize the province’s rental housing regulations and address affordability.
The Rental Housing Task Force will travel the province this summer to get the thoughts of renters, landlords and all stakeholders, including municipalities before making recommendations to the Premier and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson to modernize tenancy regulations this fall.
Premier John Horgan has tapped long-time Vancouver-West End MLA and housing advocate Spencer Chandra Herbert to lead the task force along with his colleague Ronna-Rae Leonard and Green MLA Adam Olsen.
“I hope through the work that we do in this committee, we are able to bring forward new changes to the legislation, police and procedure to protect the security and affordability of housing for renters, but to make it more enticing for landlords,” Chandra Herbert said.
Chandra Herbert will also serve as the Premier’s adviser on residential tenancy.
Supply and affordability for renters is often overshadowed by the ownership real estate market, according to Chandra Herbert.
The announcement follows the NDP’s election promise to introduce a $400 renters grant, a promise they party says will be fulfilled before the end of its first term.
The province has also clamped down on landlords hiking rent once a fixed-term lease is over or based on geographical area.
But with months before the task force reports, any recommendations and action may come too little too late for Mellody and her family. They opted for arbitration, but following a hearing, received notice from the landlord they are being evicted for renovations. The family has filed a dispute, which has staved off their eviction for the time being.
Property owner Christine Mclellan declined to comment.