After the recent announcement of B.C.’s 4.5% allowed annual rent increase, and the B.C. Rental Housing Task Force’s (RHTF) early recommendations on the issue, the provincial government has decided to slash 2019’s rent cap to 2.5%.

“It’s simply not sustainable for renters, many of whom are on fixed incomes, to see their rent increase by more than inflation each and every year,” said Premier John Horgan in a news release.

“We have to eliminate the risk of such huge increases for renters. Our new approach strikes a balance between giving relief to renters while encouraging people to maintain their rental properties.”

The previously set 4.5% rent increase for B.C. was calculated by using the current formula for inflation (2.5%) plus 2%.

Last week, the RHTF recommended removing the additional 2%, and the Province responded, capping the annual rent increase to just the rate of inflation of 2.5%.

“We recognize supply is key to bringing down rental costs in the long term, but renters have told us they are hurting and need help today,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

“That’s why we are taking careful steps to address the housing crisis and ease the pressure on renters, while also making sure that landlords have the tools they need to continue to invest in their rental properties.”

Landlords will have the option to apply for an additional increase on rent if they can show that the formula would not cover maintenance costs, or other expenses that may incur. The Residential Tenancy Branch will work with landlord advocacy groups to determine the criteria for these applications.

“Our Rental Housing Task Force members have heard time and again that renters are struggling to pay yearly maximum rent increases, while basic repairs and building maintenance are left undone,” said Spencer Chandra Herbert, Rental Housing Task Force chair and the Premier’s Advisor on Residential Tenancy.

“Taken together, these changes will make rent more affordable for British Columbians, while also helping ensure needed repairs are completed to maintain and improve rental housing.”