Before increasing rent, a landlord must wait for at least 12 months from either the start of the tenancy agreement or the date of the last increase. A landlord must also give the tenant a minimum of 3 months’ notice, in the approved form (see below), before the effective date of any increase in rent. In practice, this means that if a tenancy starts on June 1, 2015, the landlord may only increase the rent after June 1, 2016 and would need to provide notice to the tenant by March 1, 2016 of any proposed increase.
Landlords can approach rent increases in three different ways. The simplest method that does not require the tenant’s consent or an order by the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) is to increase the rent by the maximum allowable amount set by the government each year. In recent years, this amount has been set at between 2% and 4%, depending on factors such as inflation. If the landlord’s rent increase is within the prescribed limit and respects the waiting period and notice requirement, the tenant may not dispute the increase. However, if a landlord’s rent increase fails to comply with all of the requirements, the tenant’s rent will remain unchanged and the tenant may deduct any excess funds collected by the landlord from future rent owing under the tenancy.
If a landlord wishes to increase rent beyond the maximum allowable amount, they will either have to seek the tenant’s consent in writing or apply to the RTB for an order to increase rent. When making an application to the RTB for approval of a rent increase, the landlord will have to explain the reason why the proposed increase exceeds the maximum allowable amount. Such reasons may include having to undertake significant repairs or renovations that were not reasonably foreseeable at the time the rent was set.
None of the rules described above apply to rent increases in circumstances when the tenancy agreement provides that the rent will vary based on the number of occupants. In such instances, the terms of the tenancy agreement will determine the allowable increase in rent.
Also, the rules described above do not apply if the landlord is a recognized public housing body and the rent is related to the tenant’s income.
Last revised: April 10, 2016