Changes to B.C.’s tenancy law will provide greater protection to renters who are experiencing violence inside or outside of their home by allowing them to end their tenancy early.
“Everyone should feel safe in their home,” said Mitzi Dean, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity. “With these changes, anyone who experiences violence can make decisions about their housing that are right for them and their loved ones without having to worry about paying extra rent. This change is another step forward for protecting renters in British Columbia and helps people who have experienced violence move to a home where they are safe.”
There are existing provisions under the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) that allow a renter, or their dependent, who has been a victim of family violence to end a tenancy agreement early without financial penalty. Changes are being made to the RTA to include all renters experiencing violence within or outside of the home. If staying in the rental home threatens their own safety or the safety of another occupant, such as a roommate, they will now be eligible to end their tenancy.
These changes are the result of a private member’s bill that was passed in 2019 and comes into effect on Saturday, May 30, 2020.
“I was pleased to bring this private member’s bill forward,” said Andrew Weaver, independent MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head. “This change will have a significant impact on the people who need it – vulnerable members of our society facing violence in their homes. The unanimous passage of this bill exemplifies how members of the legislature can work across partisan lines to deliver real results for British Columbians.”
Under the new legislation, violence includes activities that have or are likely to have a negative effect on the security, safety or physical well-being of a renter, their dependents or other occupant, if they remain in the rental homes. For example, a person living in a rental home who is being harassed or threatened by someone they know, or a stranger, may be able to end their rental agreement without financial penalty.
“The BC Green Party caucus is proud to have advanced such an important bill in collaboration with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing,” said interim third-party Leader Adam Olsen. “A safe home is essential to the well-being of survivors of violence – nobody should have to live in close proximity to their perpetrator. These changes are particularly timely, as the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk of household violence and limited the social and financial supports available to people needing to leave an unsafe situation. Thank you to the stakeholders who guided and supported our work throughout the drafting process.”
Secure housing and ensuring fairness for renters and landlords are shared priorities between government and the BC Green Party caucus and are part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.
- The change to the Residential Tenancy Act builds on actions taken by government to improve B.C.’s rental housing system, including:
- closing the fixed-term lease loophole and eliminating the geographic rent increase clause;
- cutting the annual allowable rent increase by 2%, limiting it to inflation;
- changing the laws to increase compensation for renters for bad-faith evictions;
- making it easier for renters to receive their security and pet deposits back in a fair and timely manner;
- improving the Rental Assistance Program and Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters to give families and seniors on fixed income a break from rising costs; and
- investing $6.8 million in new funding to the Residential Tenancy Branch to reduce wait times for tenancy disputes and to establish a new compliance unit to take action against serious offenders.
For a Chinese translation, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/2020.05.29_NR_Protection_for_Renters_Experiencing_Violence-Chinese.pdf
For a Punjabi translation, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/2020.05.29_NR_Protection_for_Renters_Experiencing_Violence-Punjabi.pdf
A list of authorized third-party verifiers can be found in the Residential Tenancy Regulations: http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/477_2003#section39
For more information on the changes to the Residential Tenancy Act, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/housing-tenancy/residential-tenancies/ending-a-tenancy/ending-a-tenancy-in-special-circumstances/family-violence-or-long-term-care
The Residential Tenancy Act can be found here: http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/02078_01