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Opinion: A possible solution to B.C.'s rental law 'loopholes'

Altering Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) provisions may allow most renters to stay where they live, says the New Westminster Tenants Union.
Getty for rent sign
"For Rent" sign in front of an apartment building.

The following was submitted to the Record from the New Westminster Tenants Union.

Re: B.C. New Democrat government makes pledges to homebuyers, renters, in throne speech (Feb. 20, 2024)

We are proposing a reasonable solution that could solve a great many, if not most, of the no-fault evictions in B.C.

Currently, we have the most cases of such evictions in Canada thanks to a loophole in provincial rental law that allows bad faith landlords to evict renters without fault so as to sadly increase their rental income during the current housing crisis.

The solution is to alter specific provisions in the current RTA [Residential Tenancy Act], simply put:

“Landlords renting out two or more units (apartments, etc.) are not eligible to use the ‘landlord use for family’ or ‘caretaker’ provisions to evict tenants in good standing. Landlords renting out two or more units will have to wait until a unit vacancy occurs through natural, market turnover.”

In the future, two or more units could become three or more units as the government’s housing policies, like rezoning, take effect and build up rental stock. 

In last week’s Throne Speech, this government promised "to protect renters from bad faith evictions."

Our concern is that rather than proactively preventing most evictions, what has been proposed so far will kick into gear after landlords apply to evict tenants under the "family use" or "caretaker" loopholes.

This does little to further consumers/renters’ rights in B.C. and will continue the bullying by landlords of at-risk renters and do little to relieve the anxiety of a no-fault eviction that exists for every tenant in the province.

We ask, on behalf of all B.C. renters, that Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon and Ministry and Cabinet, carefully consider our proposal at the same time they consider other recommendations such as those presented by First United Church.