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B.C. gets new enforcement unit for landlords, tenants who don't follow the rules

Last Updated May 8, 2019 at 5:48 pm PDT

FILE - In this Sept. 24, 2007 file photo, a "for rent" sign is posted outside a home in Denver. U.S. home rental prices rose at a slower pace in October, a possible sign that apartment costs are testing the upper reaches of renters’ incomes. Real estate data firm Zillow said Friday, Nov. 20, 2015 that median rents increased a seasonally adjusted 4.5 percent from a year ago. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – Bad renters and landlords in B.C. may find life a little more difficult under the province’s new rules.

The province is stepping up its efforts to improve protections for renters and landlords. While the focus will be on education to make sure British Columbians understand the province’s tenancy laws, a new enforcement unit will make sure they follow them.

The province has also created a new staff position to help municipalities deal with rental issues.

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Scott McGregor is heading up the enforcement unit. It’s meant to identify repeat offenders — whether they’re landlords or tenants — and conduct investigations. If it can’t get the parties to comply, it will issue fines and enforce the penalties. That includes publishing decisions to out people breaking the rules.

McGregor says it’s used to investigate and enforce the most serious issues.

“Is there a serious electrical issue in the building that could actually result in a fire and the landlord is refusing to effect those repairs — that would be considered a very serious matter. But could also be a landlord locking a tenant out,” he says.

“The compliance unit is really reserved for those people out there who don’t believe the law applies to them.”

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The unit can also be used to withhold services of the tenancy branch.

“So if somebody is a property owner, that can have significant impact on them if they want to try to deal with many of the other tenants they already have if they don’t have access to services at the RTB, for example, dispute resolution,” he says.

So far, the unit has taken on 21 cases.

Changes focuses on education

The province’s new enforcement unit will give the government power to intervene, but the first goal is really to make sure people understand the rules.

“To make renting work better for everyone, we need to make sure both renters and landlords know their rights under the law and have a place to go when there’s an issue with those rights,” B.C.’s housing minister Selina Robinson, said in a release.

“Housing is the foundation of people’s lives. We want to create a rental market where there are no surprises, renters and landlords are treated fairly and there is better security for both sides.”

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The government hopes helping British Columbians understand the rules will reduce the number of cases that end up in arbitration. To do that, it’s putting more money into LandlordBC and the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre.

Education plans on renovictions are in the works.