On Monday, the Province of British Columbia announced that the maximum allowable rent increase in 2024 will be set at 3.5%, a rate the provincial government says was decided upon with both renters and landlords in mind.

"Across the country, costs have been increasing — especially for housing — at a rate that’s unsustainable for many people," said Minister of Housing Ravi Kahlon. "We know that's the case for both landlords and renters, and that's why we've found a balance to protect renters while helping to keep rental units on the market."

The Province notes that the 3.5% is well below the 12-month average inflation rate (5.6%) and is significantly less than what it would've been prior to the changes made by the Province in 2018 — following a recommendation by the Rental Housing Task Force — that limited rent increases.

Prior to 2018, the allowed rent increase was based on the rate of inflation plus 2%.

The rent increase cap was set at 2% for 2023 after being set at 1.5% for 2022, and 0% in 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to that, the cap was 2.6% for 2020 and 2.5% for 2019.

A chart of inflation rates and the rent increase caps in recent years.A chart of inflation rates and the rent increase caps in recent years.(Province of British Columbia)

"With renters facing a possible rent increase of almost 6%, the government listened to the voice of renters and acted, and I'm so glad they have," said Spencer Chandra Herbert, the MLA for Vancouver-West End who was formerly the Chair of the Rental Housing Task Force and currently the Premier's Special Liaison for Renters. “"We also know people renting out homes are facing increased costs and want to make sure they continue to make places available for long-term renters."

For renters, the Province mandates that landlords must give tenants at least three months notice in advance of a rent increase, so the rent increase announcement typically occurs in early September to allow landlords to increase rents beginning January 1. Landlords are only allowed to raise rents once per 12-month period.

Last year's announcement was made by then-Premier John Horgan and Minister of Finance Selina Robinson. David Eby stepped in to the Premier role in November, then created a standalone Ministry of Housing in December, naming Ravi Kahlon as its head. As part of that cabinet shuffle, Robinson was moved to the Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills and replaced by Katrine Conroy.

In the coming year, British Columbians will be able to claim the new renter's tax credit that was introduced in this year's budget. Other actions to expect on the housing front include a new program that incentivizes the creation of basement suites and potential tightening of short-term rental regulations.

Following the consultations for Budget 2024 that concluded in July and the subsequent recommendations made to legislators, the Province may be considering additional changes such as improving support for elderly renters and reviewing the property transfer tax.