Clarity on how and when rent increase notices can be served in BC during the pandemic

By Claire Immega, Partner, Singleton Reynolds

Since March 18th, 2020, when BC declared a provincial state of emergency, there has been a lot of confusion surrounding the Residential Tenancy Act, and more specifically, how rent increases can be administered during this time. Below, we’ve provided clarity on how and when rent increase notices can be served.

Serving rent increases during BC’s state of emergency: 

  • Rent increases served between December 2019 and August 2020 have an effective date of no earlier than December 1, 2020, regardless of the date set out on the notice. This is made effective by ministerial order and regulation, as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Currently, rent increases scheduled to begin December 1, 2020 are effective.
  • The NDP has promised to extend the freeze on existing rents to end of 2021 as part of their election campaign, but they have a very tight window to effect the law. However, we should expect they will have a law drafted and ready to pass by November 30, 2020, especially given that it appears the NDP will have a majority in the Legislative Assembly.
  • Because we haven’t seen a draft law yet, what rent increases will look like in 2021 is still hard to say, although landlords should expect the NDP to make good on their rent freeze promise.
  • At this time, I recommend to every landlord to issue rent increase notices on the schedule provided for in the Residential Tenancy Act, and by the maximum amounts allowed by the Regulation. If they are cancelled or reduced by law, so be it, but landlords will be further behind if they do not attempt to increase rents by the maximum allowable. Landlords are well advised to hope (and plan for) the best, but be prepared for the worst.
  • Keep close watch on government action in this regard, and communicate with your tenants early if a rent increase is delayed or cancelled by law.

Here is a handy chart:

Date ReceivedDate EffectiveMaximum Increase
November 2019March 20202.6%
December 2019December 20202.6%
January 2020December 20202.6%
February 2020December 20202.6%
March 2020December 20202.6%
April 2020December 20202.6%
May 2020December 20202.6%
June 2020December 20202.6%
July 2020December 20202.6%
August 2020December 20202.6%
September 2020January 20211.4%
October 2020February 20211.4%

Chart source: LandlordBC

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