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Residential Tenancies Branch

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checkmarkRent Increase Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

How often can my landlord increase my rent?

Your landlord can usually increase your rent only once every 12 months. You must be given three months prior written notice of a proposed rent increase.

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What is the annual rent increase guideline?

The annual rent increase guideline is the percentage that a landlord can increase your rent without applying to The Residential Tenancies Branch for approval. The guideline limits the amount a landlord can increase rent. The government sets the amount every year. The government usually announces the guideline for the next year in late August or early September. The guideline takes effect on January 1 of each year and applies to increases to take effect in that calendar year. For an explanation of how the annual rent increase guideline is calculated, click here.

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Does the guideline apply to every rental unit?

The guideline applies to most rental units, including apartments, single rooms, houses, duplexes, mobile homes and mobile home lots. There are some exceptions:

  • units renting for more than $1,475 a month as of December 31, 2017
  • units managed by, or for, the Government of Canada, Government of Manitoba or a municipality
  • caretaker/employee units
  • life lease complexes that are run on a non-profit basis
  • rental units in hotels or motels
  • units in nursing homes or personal care homes
  • student housing

The guideline also does not apply to newer rental units. If a residential complex was built and occupied after April 9, 2001, the units are exempt for 15 years. If a complex was built and occupied after March 7, 2005, the units are exempt from the guideline for 20 years.

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My landlord says they’re going to increase my rent.  How much notice do they have to give me?

Your landlord must give you at least three months notice, in writing, before they can increase the rent. The rent increase notice must tell you:

  • the date of the increase;
  • the rent you’re paying now;
  • what the rent is going to be and the amount of the increase, both in dollars and as a percentage; For example: This is an increase of $25 or 2.5%;
  • the annual rent increase guideline;
  • the rent increase isn’t allowed unless you get three months notice; and
  • you have the right to object to the increase.

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My landlord is increasing the rent by the guideline, but I still don’t agree with the increase. Is there anything I can do?

Yes, you can send a written objection to The Residential Tenancies Branch. A tenant can object to any rent increase, whether it’s at, above or below the rent increase guideline. To object, you’ll need to send a letter to the Branch explaining why you don’t agree with the increase. The Branch must receive your letter at least 60 days before your rent increase date. If the Branch doesn’t get your letter on time, it can’t consider your objection. When the Branch receives your objection, an officer will speak with you and your landlord about your concerns. The Branch will then issue an order setting your rent.

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My landlord is increasing my rent by more than the guideline. Is this allowed?

A landlord can apply to The Residential Tenancies Branch for an above the guideline increase if they can show that the guideline won’t cover their cost increases. A landlord must give the Branch information to support or justify a larger rent increase. Your landlord can only increase your rent by more than the guideline if they apply to the Branch.

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What should I do if I don’t agree with an above guideline increase?

You can send an objection to the Branch when you get your rent increase notice. You’ll also get a chance to see and make comments on the landlord’s application before the Branch sets your rent. When a landlord applies for an above guideline increase, the Branch considers the rent for each unit. So, even if you don’t send an objection to the Branch, the Branch will still issue an order setting the rent on your unit.

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If you sign your fixed term tenancy agreement, can you still give notice to move?

Your landlord is required to give you a tenancy agreement renewal at least three months before your existing agreement ends.  If you want to stay in your unit after the end of your existing agreement, you’re required to sign your new tenancy agreement and return it to your landlord at least two months before your existing agreement expires.  For example: If your tenancy agreement is from January 1 to December 31, your landlord must give you a tenancy agreement renewal on or before September 30.  You have to give your signed agreement back to the landlord on or before October 31.

If you don’t sign your agreement and return it to your landlord, they may assume you’re going to move at end of your existing agreement.  If you do sign, you’ll still have the right to end your tenancy later with notice of two rental payment periods.  You can give notice at any time from the date you sign your agreement to 14 days after the Branch or the Residential Tenancies Commission issues a decision on your landlord’s rent increase application.  The Residential Tenancies Act gives a tenant this right when a landlord applies for a rent increase above the guideline.

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How does my landlord apply for an above guideline increase?

To apply for an above guideline increase, your landlord must give the Branch information on their expenses. They have to show their operating expenses (e.g. property taxes, utility bills, repair costs) and their capital expenses (e.g. how much it cost to replace the roof or to buy new appliances). These expenses are for services or things that the landlord has already paid for or received bills. A landlord can’t apply for an above guideline increase because they plan to do work on a residential complex or they think their operating costs might be going up. For example: If a landlord plans to re-surface the parking lot at a complex next year, they can’t apply for an above guideline increase now to cover the cost of the work

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What does the Branch do when my landlord applies for a rent increase above the guideline?

A Residential Tenancies officer checks the information your landlord gives to the Branch to make sure they have everything needed. Sometimes the officer may ask the landlord for more information. Once the officer has all the information, they will then send a letter inviting you to come to the Branch to review the application. If you have any questions or concerns, you can give the Branch your comments in writing. You can write out your comments when you look at the application or you can send them to the Branch later. For example, If the landlord says they put new carpet in the hallways and you know they didn’t, let the Branch know. Or, if the landlord closed the swimming pool and didn’t reduce your rent, note it. Since a rent increase application has your landlord’s confidential financial information, the Branch is not allowed to give you copies of any of the material on file. You can make notes about the information.

After the tenants look at the file and make comments, your landlord will have a chance to see and respond to those comments. The officer then reviews all the information from the tenants and landlord and issues an order setting the rents.

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My rent is supposed to go up next week. The Branch hasn’t issued an order setting my rent yet. How much rent should I pay?

The Branch’s goal is to issue an order setting rent before the rent increase date or within 90 days of receiving the rent increase application. But, sometimes there may be a delay. If this happens, you must pay the proposed rent your landlord showed on your Notice of Increase in Rent. If the Branch issues an order that sets your rent at a lower amount, the Residential Tenancies Act requires your landlord to refund your rent overpayment. Your landlord may give you a cheque for the overpayment or tell you to deduct the amount from your next month’s rent.

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What does the Branch consider before it issues an order setting rent?

When setting rent, the Branch considers:

  • increases or decreases in operating expenses;
  • capital expenditures;
  • any changes in the services the landlord provides;
  • the landlord’s deficit, if any; and
  • any written comments or objections from tenants.

The order setting the rent includes reasons so both the landlord and tenants will know how the officer arrived at the decision.

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Will my rent increase be the same as the tenant who lives in the suite next to me?

Not necessarily. A landlord can choose how to distribute a rent increase among their tenants. They can ask that each tenant receive an equal dollar rent increase (e.g. each tenant’s rent is increased by $10 a month) or that each tenant receive a rent increase of an equal percentage (e.g. each tenant receives a 3% rent increase).

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The Residential Tenancies Branch just issued an order setting my rent. I don’t agree with the decision. What can I do?

You can appeal the order to the Residential Tenancies Commission. You can file your appeal by sending a letter to the Commission. There’s no charge to file this kind of appeal. The Commission will set up a hearing to consider your appeal. After the hearing, the Commission will issue an order setting your rent. The Commission’s order is final.

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