IMPORTANT NOTE: Due to COVID-19, the rent increase freeze has been extended to December 31, 2021. If your landlord has given you a rent increase notice with an effective date after March 30, 2020 and before January 1, 2022, the notice is considered canceled.
At the start of your tenancy, rent is set at whatever amount you and your landlord agree to as part of your agreement. From that point on, according to section 22 of the Residential Tenancy Regulation, your landlord can only raise your rent once every 12 months by an amount equal to inflation. This means that the allowable rent increase percentage changes annually, so check the Residential Tenancy Branch website or this webpage to find out how much landlords can raise rent each year. For 2020, the allowable percentage is 2.6%
Section 42 of the Residential Tenancy Act says that landlords must provide an approved “Notice of Rent Increase” form three full months before a rent increase takes effect. For example, if you receive proper notice on April 5th, the three full months that count towards the notice period are May, June, and July, which means the rent increase would take effect on August 1st (assuming you pay rent on the first of the month). If your landlord does not raise your rent during a 12-month period, or raises it by less than the allowable percentages, they are not allowed to top-up a future rent increase to make up the difference.
If your landlord uses the proper “Notice of Rent Increase” form but gives you less than three full months notice, section 42(4) of the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) says that you can continue to pay your current rent until the correct amount of time has passed. For example, if you normally pay rent on the first of the month and your landlord gives you a Notice of Rent Increase on March 1st (or anytime later that month), you will not have to start paying the increase until July 1st. Although this may seem like four months, the RTA counts it as three. By serving the notice on March 1st, your landlord has excluded March from the three-month notice period. To avoid any misunderstandings with your landlord, it can be a good idea to write them and explain the law to ensure that they do not try to end your tenancy for unpaid rent.
If you have overpaid on rent because your landlord gave you an illegal rent increase, you have two options:
- deduct the overpayment from your next month’s rent; or
- apply for a monetary order through dispute resolution.
If you choose the first option, make sure to clearly explain to your landlord that you have the right to withhold rent according to section 43 of the Residential Tenancy Act. See TRAC’s template letter, Illegal Rent Increase.
Additional Occupants Added
If you wish to move someone in to your rental unit, you should first check your tenancy agreement. Your landlord may be allowed to raise your rent for additional occupants, but only if your agreement specifies by how much. If your tenancy agreement does not include such a term, your landlord cannot legally raise your rent when an additional occupant moves in. See section 13 and section 40 of the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) for more information.
Residential Tenancy Branch Permission
Your landlord can apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) for an additional rent increase above the allowable annual percentage. Arbitrators will only allow these additional rent increases in exceptional circumstances, listed in section 23 of the Residential Tenancy Regulation (RTR). 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 package of hearing documents, including the evidence they have submitted. As the respondent, you will have a chance to speak during the hearing and submit evidence that challenges your landlord’s application. See RTB Policy Guideline 37 for more information.
Geographic rent increases: For years, landlords had the right to apply for an additional rent increase when a rental unit’s rent was significantly lower than other similar units in the same geographic area. Fortunately, the RTR has now been amended to eliminate geographic rent increases.
Some subsidized rental units where rent is related to income may be exempt from the rent increase rules in the RTA. If you live in a subsidized rental unit, ask your housing provider about the rent increase rules that apply to you. See section 2 of the RTR for more information.
- 2020: 2.6%
- 2019: 2.5%
- 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%
- Parking falls under definition of rent when included in tenancy agreement
- Laundry falls under definition of rent when included in tenancy agreement
- Tenants denied claim for compensation for above guidelines rent increase due to estoppel
- Proving market rent not enough to be granted additional rent increase