Friday, July 19, 2024

BC gets funding boost in effort to help combat landlord/tenant disputes


Dispute with your landlord/tenant got you down? 

Renters and landlords within BC will soon see benefits from the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) with the hiring of more staff to help deal with disputes. 

The increase in staff comes after a $15.6 million funding announcement from the province over  the next three years which the government says will improve wait times for active disputes.

The newly created Ministry of Housing has put forth a hiring initiative to the RTB so that disputes can be dealt with in a more timely manner as when they go unresolved, tensions between landlords and tenants can escalate quickly.

The province says that each year, the RTB receives approximately 200,000 calls for information and guidance from staff and they process more than 20,000 dispute applications.

According to BC’s Minister of Housing Ravi Kahlon, application numbers have increased by 21% since 2018 with the influx of people moving to BC.

“Renters and landlords have been clear that the current residential tenancy dispute resolution process isn’t working fast enough to address their needs,” said Kahlon. 

“We hear you and we are taking action to speed up service and strengthen enforcement to address things like repeat or serious offences like illegal evictions, so renters and landlords can get the fair treatment and timely support they deserve.”

The new funding will allow RTB to bring in 50 new full-time employees by increasing their operating budget for staffing by 40%. 

The province is promising to cut down wait times for disputes with the new hires. The additional hires will double the size of the Compliance and Enforcement Unit (CEU).

The CEU was created in 2019 and it is responsible for investigating and taking action in situations of repeat or serious residential tenancy offences, such as illegal evictions. They also have the power to impose monetary penalties when necessary.

According to the Ministry of Housing, a result of the COVID-19 pandemic was the overall demand for housing from people moving to BC increasing. This has created more competition in the renting market which has driven up the number of dispute applications to the RTB.

“As tenants grapple with the ongoing housing and eviction crises, it is essential that they can access and enforce their rights at the RTB,” said Robert Patterson, lawyer, Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre (TRAC). 

“This additional support for the RTB will mean that tenants whose landlords are ignoring the law can have their urgent concerns addressed sooner. TRAC hopes that adding more staff will mean not only that tenants’ cases will be heard more quickly, but also that arbitrators will have the time and support they need to give well-reasoned decisions.” 

“We also applaud the government’s investment in the CEU, which has been an incredible resource for tenants, by preventing illegal evictions and taking meaningful action against bad-faith landlords.”

The new funding will also benefit landlords whose tenants are refusing to pay them via the CEU’s workforce being doubled. 

“Not only will this new investment alleviate financial concerns for landlords by allowing them to solve rental disputes faster, but it will also ensure that their unit is available to provide housing to people in B.C. at a time when it’s needed most,” said David Hutniak, CEO, LandlordBC.

“We are pleased to see this government take action to resolve a process they recognize isn’t working. We look forward to continuing to work alongside them to create better solutions for landlords and renters in our province.”

In addition to increasing their workforce, the RTB’s new funding will aid them in revitalizing their processes to make them more user-friendly. Part of this will be to improve the early intervention process that resolves blatant disputes without a hearing and to improve their online service portal.

Curtis Blandy

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