To the editor,
Vacancy control refers to the need to limit rent increases between tenancies. The B.C. Residential Tenancy Act allows rents to be raised only once a year – unless there’s been rental turnover creating vacancy.
A lack of vacancy control results in rent increases far exceeding the annual allowable increase. The maximum rent increase allowed by the B.C. government was only four per cent in 2018 and 3.7 per cent the year before. But the renter who will take over my Kelowna apartment in June will pay 13 per cent more than I pay, even though the landlord has raised the rent in each of the last two years. My new landlord in Nanaimo is clearly anticipating vacancies. His website indicates future tenants will pay 20 per cent more for the apartment I’ve not even yet occupied.
A lack of vacancy control also results in a financial incentive for unscrupulous landlords to unfairly evict renters in order to create opportunities for large rent increases. Evictions often take place under the pretext of a need to displace tenants for renovations, leading to a crisis of ‘reno-victions,’ particularly on the Lower Mainland.
As taxpayers’ money is poured into one end of the housing market in the form of renters’ grants for families and seniors, municipal land contributions, and developers’ subsidies, renters’ wealth pours out the other end in the form of unconscionable rent increases.
It’s incumbent on renters and municipalities to fight back. Renters can start by signing a petition to the B.C. government, calling for vacancy control, at www.realrentcontrolbc.ca.
The City of Nanaimo could choose to take the lead at the next UBCM meeting, arguing the case for vacancy control.
Dianne Varga, Kelowna
The views and opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the writer and do not reflect the views of Black Press or the Nanaimo News Bulletin. If you have a different view, we encourage you to write to us or contribute to the discussion below.