NDP leader John Horgan urges faster action on fixed term leases

NDP leader John Horgan says the Liberal government is unnecessarily delaying removing a clause from the Residential Tenancy Act that allows some landlords to raise rents on tenants.

'This is a regulatory change that they could do tomorrow with an order'

B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan during question period at the provincial legislature. (CBC)

B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan is slamming the Liberals for their delay closing a rental loophole he says is "gouging" vulnerable tenants.

Horgan said some landlords are taking advantage of vacate clauses on fixed-term leases.

In such cases, landlords ask tenants to decide at the end of their term whether to move out or sign a new lease at a higher rent — usually higher than the amount allowed by the Residential Tenancy Act.

"With this vacate clause, unscrupulous landlords are able to increase [rent] by 30 per cent," Horgan said. "In a hot market, that's putting undue pressure on tenants and that's gouging."

B.C. Housing Minister Rich Coleman said weeks ago he is looking into closing the loophole.  But Horgan says it's not happening fast enough.

Closing the loophole "is a regulatory change that they could do tomorrow with an order", he said, adding the NDP and housing advocates have been raising this issue for years.

"This is about protecting renters — the most vulnerable in the housing market, he said. "It seems to be an easy fix that they're ignoring."

Ministry response

In a statement to CBC News on Wednesday, Coleman said he is still looking into making the changes but "legislative amendments will take some time to complete."

The minister also said he needs to balance the needs of both tenants and landlords.

With files from The Early Edition

To listen to the interview, click on the link labelled B.C. NDP leader John Horgan on rental affordability