NDP government to plug fixed-term rental loophole

Kootenay experts say local landlords not using loophole to raise rents

Some B.C. landlords are forcing tenants into short-term non-renewable leases. Every time they lease to a new tenant they can legally raise the rent higher than the legislated limit. That limit is no more than two per cent plus inflation per year.

This is such a problem in larger urban areas that the provincial government recently announced it is bringing in changes to the Residential Tenancy Act that would plug this loophole.

But the head of a local 81-member landlord association says that if this is a problem in Nelson, he’s not aware of it.

“Certainly no members of the West Kootenay Landlord Society has done it,” Trevor Jenkinson told the Star. “That would be unethical, that would be something we would consider is not fair or reasonable.”

And Amy Taylor, who advises tenants at the Advocacy Centre, agrees that it does not appear to be an issue in Nelson.

“I have not had tenants coming to us with that information. I have heard of landlords doing that in other areas, but not in Nelson,” she said, adding that most of the issues tenants bring to her are about evictions, repairs, and return of security deposits.

One of the choices given to landlords and tenants in the Residential Tenancy Branch’s standard tenancy agreement is for a fixed term tenancy in which the tenant must move out after a certain date. This is the provision that is reportedly being abused by landlords.

But the government’s vow to remove this loophole will not be to simply disallow “fixed-term-must-move-out tenancies,” according to Jenkinson.

He said there are a number of legitimate reasons a landlord might want to end a tenancy after a certain pre-determined date.

For example, “Someone who has their house on the market that fails to sell over the summer. They would like to rent it out over the winter only, and then put it back on the market in the spring. They would like it to be empty because it is harder to sell a tenanted property.”

Another example, Jenkinson said, is an owner who wants to do short-term Airbnb rentals in tourist season and rent the unit out long term for the rest of the year.

Jenkinson said he expects the government to consider such possibilities and make exceptions, rather than simply banning fixed-term rentals.

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