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Housing ministry backtracks on fixed-term lease loophole

Recreational property owners can boot out tenants if the landlord moves in for just eight weeks
Housing Minister Selina Robinson, who is also responsible for municipal affairs and Translink, spoke to delegates Wednesday at the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Photo Dan Toulgoet

In a surprise move, the B.C. Housing Minister has backtracked on a controversial proposed change to the B.C. Residential Tenancy Act that outlawed the use of fixed-term rental agreements except in the case of the landlord or their family moving into the unit on a long-term basis.

The latest change is expected to benefit owners of recreational property, such as those who rent a cottage or ski condo during the off season and then take it over for two months in the high season.

That would have been illegal in the province under the amended legislation introduced earlier this year.

At that time, B.C. Housing Minister Selina Robinson said the ending of fixed-term agreements would protect the rights of renters who have been left open to “unfair and unjustified rent increases.” Robinson explained that a “loophole” had allowed landlords to set a fix term on rentals and then raise the rent above the maximum annual four per cent increase allowed under B.C. tenant legislation.

LandlordBC, an organization representing about 3,000 landlords, had pointed out to the government that fixed terms were necessary for some landlords, but was not confident of any changes being made.

“The Minister of Housing has the ability through regulation to provide additional exemptions to the current legislation, however at this juncture, she has advised that she will not be doing so. She is aware that there are regions of the province which may warrant her considering further exemptions. [But] I do not believe any are imminent,” said David Hutniak, executive director of LandlordBC.

“This will reduce the number of rentals,” warned Sunshine Coast realtor Bruce Lasuta, adding that the resort area already has a near-zero vacancy rate.

However, Western Investor contacted the Ministry and was told that the fixed-term rental agreement had been altered.

“A landlord can use the vacate clause if they plan, in good faith, to occupy the home at the end of the fixed term tenancy agreement. It does not matter that they will only live in the home for the summer months,” the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing stated in June 7 email.

Western Investor is now seeking confirmation if this change extends to other landlords who wish to use a fixed-term rental agreement.