When you first move into a rental unit, your rent is the amount that you and your landlord agreed to in your tenancy agreement. From that point on, your landlord can only raise your rent by a maximum of 2% + inflation, once every 12 months. For 2017, the allowable rent increase percentage is 3.7%. To raise your rent, your landlord must notify you ahead of time by providing you with a Notice of Rent Increase form three full months before the rent increase takes effect. For example, if you are given a Notice of Rent Increase on April 5th, the three full months that count towards the notice are May, June and July, and the rent increase will take effect on August 1st (assuming you pay rent on the first of the month). If a landlord does not increase rent during a 12 month period, or increases rent by less than the allowable amount, they are not allowed to “roll over” the amount onto a later rent increase.
A notice of rent increase is illegal if it:
- states an increase over the allowable amount, or
- is not in an approved form.
If you receive an illegal notice of rent increase, you can continue paying your current rent. However, do not ignore the notice. It is a good idea to respond in writing to the illegal notice to inform your landlord that it does not comply with the Residential Tenancy Act, and that you do not consent to the increase. See TRAC’s template letter, Response to Illegal Rent Increase.
If you receive a notice in the approved form, which states an amount within the limits, but has an incorrect date, you do not need to pay the new amount of rent until the correct date. The effective date for a rent increase must be:
- at least three full months after you receive the notice, and
- at least 12 months since the beginning of your tenancy, or your last rent increase.
Again, if you receive a notice of rent increase with an incorrect date, do not ignore it. Inform your landlord in writing that the effective date does not comply with the legal requirements for rent increases, and that you will continue paying your current rent until the correct date.
Overpaying a Rent Increase
If your landlord illegally raised your rent and you have overpaid, you may be allowed to deduct the overpayment from your rent or apply for dispute resolution for a monetary order to recover the overpayment. If you decide to withhold rent because of an overpayment, make sure to clearly explain to your landlord why you are doing this. If your landlord does not understand why you are withholding rent, they may issue you a 10 day notice to end tenancy for non-payment of rent.
Additional occupants added
If a new person moves into your rental unit, your landlord can raise the rent if your tenancy agreement clearly states that they are allowed to raise rent for additional occupants, and it specifies how much the rent increases for additional occupants. If your tenancy agreement does not include those terms, your landlord cannot raise your rent when an extra person moves in.
Residential Tenancy Branch permission
Your landlord can apply for dispute resolution at the Residential Tenancy Branch and request approval for an additional rent increase above the allowable annual percentage. Arbitrators will only allow these additional rent increase in exceptional circumstances – for example, when the rent of a unit is significantly lower than the average rent for similar units in the same geographic area, or if the landlord had to make major and unexpected repairs. These additional rent increases are not common, as the landlord must have strong evidence for why the standard rent controls shouldn’t apply.
The application fee for landlords is $300, plus $10 for each rental unit, to a maximum of $600. If your landlord applies for an additional rent increase, you will be served with a notice of the hearing, as well as all evidence that your landlord has submitted. You will have the chance to participate in the hearing, and provide your own evidence countering your landlord’s claims.
Some subsidized rental units where the rent is related to the tenant’s income may be exempt from the rent increase rules in the Residential Tenancy Act. If you live in a subsidized rental unit you should speak to your housing provider to learn about the rent increase rules that apply to you. For more information, you can also refer to Section 2 of the Residential Tenancy Regulation
- 2018: 4.0%
- 2017: 3.7%
- 2016: 2.9%
- 2015: 2.5%
- 2014: 2.2%
- 2013: 3.8%
- 2012: 4.3%
- 2011: 2.3%
- 2010: 3.2%
- 2009: 3.7%
- 2008: 3.7%
- 2007: 4.0%
- 2006: 4.0%
- 2005: 3.8%
- 2004: 4.6%
- RTB Decision- Parking Falls Under Definition of Rent When Included in Tenancy Agreement
- RTB Decision- Laundry Falls Under Definition of Rent When Included in Tenancy Agreement
- RTB Decision- Tenants Denied Claim for Compensation for Above Guidelines Rent Increase due to Estoppel
- RTB Decision- Proving Market Rent Not Enough to be Granted Additional Rent Increase
- Clements v. Gordon Nelson Investments Inc., 2010 BCSC 31- Supreme Court of BC decision that set aside RTB decision to grant additional rent increase