Revised tenant act good for Whistler 

Act brings more stability to rental market

Huge rent increases and damage deposits could be a thing of the past for Whistler renters, with new rate and deposit caps for tenants and landlords entrenched in the new provincial Residential Tenancy Act.

The act effectively replaces the Landlord-Tenant Act, which has been criticized in the past for failing to protect either landlords or tenants.

"We made a New Era commitment to modernize residential tenancy legislation in clear language that everyone can understand," said Solicitor General Rich Coleman. "The old legislation was difficult for users to comprehend. Our new law will clarify responsibilities of both landlords or tenants, streamline processes and simplify regulations.

"The changes will stimulate a healthy rental market and improve rental choices, while reducing the over 20,000 costly, time-consuming and confrontational residential tenancy arbitrations each year. The new legislation strikes a balance between the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants."

Among the contents of the new act is a Rent Fairness provision that limits annual rent increases to 3 or 4 per cent, plus inflation. If cost-of-living increases remain around 1.5 per cent annually, the Act limits rent increases to between 5 or 6 per cent per year.

The Act also prohibits screening fees, and maintains security damage deposits to half a month’s rent, although pet owners could be asked to pay more. That could be beneficial for pet owners, as many landlords currently say no to pets because of fears that the associated wear and tear could exceed the allowable damage deposit.

Tim Wake, the general manager of the Whistler Housing Authority, said they do not expect their operations to change significantly as a result of the law.

"We don’t anticipate it’s going to affect our operations because it really has to do with resolving disputes in areas we don’t get into. I think if you have good tenants and good landlords, then you don’t need too much of the stuff."

Outside of the WHA, he thinks the new law will be beneficial for Whistler renters.

"We do get calls from people that are getting rent increases more substantial than (5 or 6 per cent), and the old act didn’t put any limits on that. The tenants were usually surprised that there is no limit," said Wake. "If we can limit increases to that in Whistler, it may prevent some of the gouging."

The WHA tracks the market price of rentals posted in Pique Newsmagazine and The Question, and according to Wake they are growing steadily. A three bedroom rental costs an average of $2,081, a two bedroom $1,456, a one bedroom $1,022 and a Studio $752.

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