At the start of a tenancy, the rent is set at whatever amount the tenant and landlord agree to as part of the tenancy agreement. From that point on, the landlord can only raise the rent once every 12 months (but not in the first year of the tenancy) by a percentage equal to inflation. This means that the allowable rent increase percentage changes annually. For 2023, the allowable percentage is 2.0%.
Section 42 of the Residential Tenancy Act says a landlord must provide their tenant with an approved form, Notice of Rent Increase, three full months before a rent increase takes effect. For example, if you receive this type of notice on April 5th, the three months that count towards the notice period are May, June, and July, and the rent increase would take effect on August 1st (assuming rent is paid on the 1st of the month). If your landlord does not raise your rent during a 12-month period, or raises it by less than the allowable percentage, they are not allowed to top-up a future rent increase to make up the difference.
Wrong Notice Period
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.
There are some exceptions to the rules about rent increases:
- Non-profit housing: If a tenant lives in non-profit housing that falls under section 2 of the Residential Tenancy Regulation, and their rent is also related to their income, the rules about rent increases do not apply.
- 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.
- Additional rent increases: The RTB can grant permission to a landlord to raise rent above the the annual allowable percentage.
Additional Rent Increases
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.
Additional Rent Increase for Capital Expenditures
TRAC is currently working on plain language content on additional rent increases for capital expenditures. In the meantime, see sections 23.1-23.4 of the RTR.
Overpaying a Rent Increase
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.
History of Rent Increases
- 2023: 2.0%
- 2022: 1.5%
- 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%
Previous Legal Decisions
- 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