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andrew.weaver.mla@leg.bc.ca

Balancing the rights of tenants and landlords

Yesterday in the Legislature I had a very productive exchange with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing during committee stage of Bill 16: Tenancy Statutes Amendment Act, 2017. As noted in my second reading speech, I felt it was important to highlight some potential unforeseen consequences of passing this important piece of legislation. In particular, I focused on the issue of short, fixed-term leases that are sometimes used by landlords to protect not only landlords from bad renters but also other tenants (in the same building or suite) as well.

More details are developed in the exchange reproduced in video and text below. I appreciated the thoughtful responses from the Minister.


Video of Exchange



Text of Exchange


A. Weaver: I thank the member opposite for raising this issue at this particular section. I was going to raise a similar issue at a subsequent section, as it does come in at numerous places.

I want to start by commending government for actually addressing an issue that clearly is an important issue and for providing additional resources to the rental tenancy process, because it is a very burdensome process.

I do want to bring forward the concerns that were just expressed. It is an issue that I raised at second reading too. The problem is that, I suspect,  there are a lot of unforeseen consequences that might arise if this is not thought through in its entirety.

I give an example, and the member opposite, the member for Vancouver–False Creek, highlighted a number. One is, let’s suppose hypothetically, that you have a rental agreement with a number of renters, and these renters are living in the same quarters. The problem is that when you sign an agreement, you’re actually protecting other renters as well as the landlord. By signing a short-term agreement, you might have multiple people with tenancy agreements sharing rooms in a basement suite, and in fact, what’s critical is that you ensure that there’s a relationship not only between the landlord and the tenant but between the tenants themselves.

Now, we understand that there is a process to go through this by appealing, etc. But it is so burdensome, it is so impossible…. I mean, those who have had to try to remove a tenant, even with damage or not paying rent, can issue all the eviction notices they want, but the reality is that it’s very, very difficult to evict a bad tenant as it stands.

The beauty of a short term…. When I’m talking a short term — I think the member for Vancouver–False Creek and I have discussed this — we’re talking three months, four months. What we’re thinking here is that you’re giving a short-term contract — this would be all done in a regulatory fashion, obviously — which would allow for renewal but no increase in rent attached to the unit.

What this does is…. The advocacy groups were trying to attach rental increases to a unit. That, obviously, is not going to work, for a variety of reasons. However, you could take what they’re suggesting for a short-term lease of three months, say, and say that the rent cannot increase if the tenancy is a fixed-term lease for three months. Then, in fact, the rent increase is attached to the unit.

I’m wondering if the minister might consider this, as she discusses with civil servants, as a means and ways of protecting not only landlords from bad renters but other tenants as well. By having — pick a number; say, three months…. You will allow three-month fixed-term leases, but there can be no rent increase if a lease is terminated after three months. The rent must remain fixed at the previous value. This would allow landlords and other tenants to be protected in the case of an inappropriate relationship or a tenant who’s created some issues.

Hon. S. Robinson: Part what I’m hearing, actually, makes things more unstable for renters in terms of this idea that unless they’re on their best behaviour and no one complains about them, then they don’t know for three months whether or not they actually will have a place to live after 90 days. That creates more instability and, I think, more terror for the more than 1½ million renters in British Columbia.

There are provisions in the act that allow a landlord, should there be a problem tenant…. Even if it is with other tenants in the building or in the basement suite or whatever the arrangement is, there is an opportunity to have that tenant removed. That currently does exist in the act.

A. Weaver: With respect, again, I reiterate that every landlord in the province of British Columbia understands that there’s a process, but heaven forbid you actually have to enter into this process, because the process is very prejudicial, in my view and in many people’s view, against the landlord.

You could have tenants who are not paying rent for months. Try to get a tenant out if they haven’t paid rent for three months. You can get the sheriffs involved. It’s very, very difficult, even with the existing rules, because of the lack of teeth to those rules in a manner that actually allows the landlord to evict those bad tenants.

So I appreciate, again, the potential for uncertainty. But the reality is, I would argue, there wouldn’t be uncertainty because right now landlords are using such clauses for short-term reasons, and they’re using them for precisely the reasons articulated by the member for Vancouver–False Creek. It’s just to test rental situations.

The single most important thing for a landlord is to ensure that they get a tenant who will be there for a long term. Every landlord wants to get the tenant who will never move out, because when they get such a tenant, they’re not painting the walls again, they’re not replacing this. They’ve got a stable tenant.

We’re talking about a few landlords and a few tenants in all regards here, but we’re focused entirely on the tenants who’ve been abused, frankly, by those few landlords who’ve created the need for this regulation. But I worry that if we’re not thinking about those few bad tenants as well and about protecting landlords, we could create troubles down the road.

I’m not going to belabour this, because we’re going back and forth. But I urge the minister, with her staff, to seriously reflect upon the comments made by the member for Vancouver–False Creek as well as these comments, as you move forward, to ensure that good landlords are protected — not just by having to go through this abyss of a process to get rid of bad tenants — and supported as well.

There is a danger here. In having a long conversation with the various associations and one particular association involved with landlords, there’s a lot of concern in the province of British Columbia about this from landlords, good landlords — forget the bad landlords; from good landlords — and that’s why I urge caution.

Hon. S. Robinson: I take the member’s concerns quite seriously, and our government does. That’s why we have increased funding to the residential tenancy branch significantly, with an additional $7 million over the next few years. And we are developing a compliance unit that will deal with challenging tenants and challenging landlords to make sure that is addressed, because we have heard that landlords need some teeth for the act. So we’re also making sure that we’re strengthening the administrative penalties.

We’ve heard that feedback, and we’re strengthening the act. We’re strengthening the ability of the residency tenancy branch to do its job as it’s supposed to. We’re also simplifying the process for accessing the residential tenancy branch and getting the help that it needs, and we’re going to be monitoring it closely. I have asked for feedback to make sure that it is doing what it’s supposed to do.

At the end of the day, this is about managing relationships. We know that a landlord-tenant agreement is a relationship, and we want it to work. I think they do work most of the time. When things do go sideways, it’s important to have an outside body that can either help manage that relationship or help dissolve the relationship.

The act has in it times in which you can dissolve that relationship. Making sure that we have a robust residential tenancy branch that has the capacity to do its job is very, very important, and we’re going to be monitoring it closely.

A. Weaver: I just wanted to thank the minister for her thoughtful response to the questions.

Bill 16: Tenancy Statutes Amendment Act

Today in the Legislature we initiated second reading debate of Bill 16: Tenancy Statutes Amendment Act, 2017. The bill makes a number of changes to the Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act and the Residential Tenancy Act designed to:

  1. restrict the ability for landlords to use of a vacate clause with fixed term leases, except in specific circumstances that will be provided for by regulation;
  2. limit rent increases between fixed-term tenancy agreements with the same tenant to the maximum annual allowable amount;
  3. enable the residential tenancy branch to take stronger action to enforce tenancy laws with repeat violators.

Below I reproduce the text and video of my speech.


Text of Speech


A. Weaver: I rise to take my place in the debates at second reading on Bill 16, Tenancy Statutes Amendment Act.

As we’ve heard, this bill has three main goals. It makes amendments to the Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act and the Residential Tenancy Act. The bill makes the following changes. First, it restricts the ability for landlords to use a vacate clause with fixed-term leases except in special circumstances that will be provided for by regulation. Two, it limits rent increases between fixed-term tenancies with the same tenant to the maximum annual allowable amount. Three, it enables the residential tenancy branch to take stronger actions to enforce laws and repeat violators, and also it streamlines the dispute resolution process for the return of security and pet deposits.

I rise to speak to this bill as someone who historically has both been a renter and a landlord — a landlord since 1986 in one form or another. I rise to say that I approach this bill very cautiously.

I recognize that there is a crisis facing affordability in Metro Vancouver and in metro Victoria, where vacancy rates are below half a percent or 0.6 percent.

And I recognize that there are a number of bad apples out there — I come back to the Leader of the Opposition’s term “bad apples” — who have created a crisis, in terms of fixed-term leases being used as a means of avoiding the law, the law which limits rent increases for people who are there.

Now, I approach this also from the sides of those who are landlords to recognize that the fixed-term lease often is one of the only means to actually get a tenant out of a property if the tenant is actually not responsibly taking care of that property.

I understand that there is the rental tenancy agency and the agreement. I’m concerned that without an injection of substantial funds — something I’ll explore in the committee stage, and I understand these will be forthcoming —the intent will be lost of this one tool that landlords have to ensure that they can evict a tenant in a timely fashion without having to drag through the RTA process.

Because we do know that there are some cases where we have irresponsible landlords, but we also have irresponsible renters. So I respect the need for this legislation in a basically zero-vacancy market.

We have a crisis on our hands. We need to deal with that crisis to ensure that renters, the most vulnerable in the society, are not being taken advantage of by those exploiting it. But at the same time, in the longer term, I think we need to look very carefully at how we actually move the whole Residential Tenancy Act forward to ensure that we protect good landlords.

I come to my own personal circumstance as somebody who has been a landlord for many, many years and, also, from a family of people who worked in the restaurant business, who did not have a pension. They had no pension other than by the fact that they squirrelled their savings into real estate to ensure that their pension would be the rent from this real estate in their retirement.

Now again, the single most important thing a landlord can do is get a good tenant who lives in the same place for a long time. A good tenant is more valuable than $100 a month, because you know a good tenant is one that will take care of the property and is one you do not price out of the market.

One of the means and ways that landlords use this fixed-term clause is you’ll sign a one-year agreement but not automatically go to the month-to-month, because automatically going to the month-to-month will start to invoke the RTA process.

And you view it both for protection of the landlord and the renter. This one-year period is a period to see whether the relationship…. In a tenant or renter case, for most small business landlords — not the multinationals or the big property owners but the small business ones who are really trying to get the best tenant — this is a good check to ensure that you’re a match.

In my personal case, I viewed it as a way to give back. We, for years and years, have given below-market rent in a house or two houses because we could give someone a leg-up. We could give them a chance, and we’d know that they’d be there and they’d take care of the property for a long, long time.

I mean, some members here would think it kind of odd if I said that we rented a four-bedroom house for a $1,000 a month. That is what we did here, because it covered our costs, it gave people a break, and it allowed us to protect ourselves for the future and our children in this escalating real estate market.

With that said, we can look to those bad apples. Those bad apples have taken this and made it into a crisis, and I have no sympathy for that.

People taking advantage of other people because of a difficult time in affordability is wrong at a fundamental level, which is why ultimately I support this bill, with the caveat that I’ll explore at committee stage some of the attempts that government will take to actually ensure that the rental tenancy office is resourced properly, so that delays are not there for the sake of delays, that people can get responses for concerns in a timely fashion, that landlords and renters are protected. Because ultimately, I think the collective view here is we want to make this system better.

As we know, there’s a small minority of these landlords who’ve been engaged in this business. And again, for those out there, other landlords, we really need to turn to those irresponsible landlords and say: “You know what? This is your fault.” Government has responded, as it must respond, to a crisis that was created by irresponsible landlords taking advantage of a system. For that, again, I come back to the reason why ultimately I think this is an important bill to support.

In terms of the enforcement laws, this too is important. The amendments that are being proposed will allow the branch to more strongly enforce the tenancy laws. Again, this is important because they will be able to compel the production of documents as part of penalty investigations, publish penalty decisions, refuse to accept an application for dispute resolution if an administrative penalty is owed and pursue prosecution where penalties have been levied but there is still no compliance.

This largely protects the renter, but there are clauses in here that do also protect the landlord with respect to administrative penalties if they have not been paid as well. Again, this is a good component of the legislation, which I’m very pleased to support.

Finally, when it comes to streamlining pet and damage deposits, again, this legislation…. I understand the need for doing it, but ultimately it comes back to the fact that those few bad apples out there have required such legislation be put in place.

The overwhelming majority of landlords take the return of pet and damage deposits very seriously. They follow due process. They ensure that they’re not retained for inappropriate means. To be blunt, the process, if the renter knows — going through the rental tenancy branch and the whole adjudication process — is very, very cumbersome, and nobody wants to do that. So the majority of landlords have been following process appropriately. But again, those bad apples have made this necessary.

I come to the compelling arguments put forward by the member for Vancouver–West End, who is in an area of Metro Vancouver with a very low vacancy rate, very high rental accommodations — frankly, a whole bunch of vacant places as well — and I hear his concerns. I hear his concerns, and I support the amendments, as we’ve seen fit to ensure that the retention of security deposits is not done inappropriately.

In conclusion, I support the intent of this bill to end the abuse of the current act by a small number of landlords who skirt rent controls and evict people from their homes if they won’t agree to large rent increases. I look forward to discussing the bill in committee stage and, in particular, exploring the means and ways the tenancy branch will actually be funded and the means and ways that will allow disputes to be dealt with in a timely fashion, and I look forward to listening to others in this second reading debate.


Video of Speech


It’s time to clamp down on offshore purchase of BC real estate

Today in the legislature I rose in Question Period to ask the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing when the government will step in to clamp down offshore purchases of BC real estate. I’ve been raising the issue of housing affordability week after week in the legislature and I continue to be very troubled by the lack of action on this file.

Yesterday the government released very disturbing data that indicated a growing crisis in terms of offshore buying. Fully 5 percent of the homes in the Capital Regional District and Metro Vancouver, 10 percent in Burnaby and 11 percent in Richmond were purchased by foreign buyers in September alone.

Below I reproduce the video and text of my question period exchange.


Video of Exchange



Question


A. Weaver: Yesterday the government released property transfer tax data that clearly demonstrates the rising impact that foreign speculators are having on our housing market.

Fully 5 percent of the homes in the capital regional district and Metro Vancouver, 10 percent in Burnaby — that’s a doubling in a year — and 11 percent in Richmond were purchased by foreign buyers in September alone.

And that’s not counting all the transactions that were able to avoid paying property transfer tax and foreign buyers tax through creative measures.

Across every single community in Metro Vancouver, the percentage of transactions involving a foreign natural is going up. These transactions have now an outsized impact on the entire market, contributing beyond their relative share to the price increases we’re seeing in our province.

It’s essential that this government take action on the use of foreign money in our real estate sector, and this action must start now.

To the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing: When will British Columbia start implementing policies that will ensure that our limited housing stock is used first as homes for British Columbia, not as a bank to account for foreign capital.


Answer


Hon. C. James: I am proud to work with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

This is a tax issue, and I’m proud that we’re actually doing work in the Ministry of Finance on tax issues to come up with a comprehensive strategy that will address affordability in our province.

I appreciate the member’s question because what’s clear from the figures is that the previous government’s piecemeal approach did not work. You’re continuing to see foreign investment increase. We need to address the issues.

So right now, within my ministry, we’re actively examining all of the existing and new ideas for housing tax measures, including a speculation tax, including the foreign buyers tax.

We’re rejecting the piecemeal approach, because we know we have to address housing affordability in a long-term strategy. That’s what we’re focused on, and that’s what we’re going to do.

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members.

If I may, before you continue, member, remind all members that we have visitors in the gallery. I’m thinking it’s difficult for them to hear, and I’m especially reminded we have a wonderful group of young school students in the gallery.


Supplementary Question


A. Weaver: That was timely, because that wonderful group are actually grade 5 students from Glenlyon Norfolk, a school in my riding. So welcome here, in during question period.

I appreciate the Minister of Finance rising in response to my question. But my question was to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing about what is being done today, not what is going to be done hypothetically in February.

Look, the reality of the situation is this: the previous government brought us back in summer to implement on a timely, urgent fashion a foreign buyers tax. This was done despite the budget cycle, which was not occurring for another six months.

So I don’t buy the minister’s argument. We’ve heard the government talk about speculation taxes. Yet, there’s been no action. We’ve heard them talk about vacancy taxes. No action. We’ve heard them talk about Airbnb. No action.

To be blunt, the government is acting like deer caught in headlights. This is the single biggest issue facing our province, and we are told week in and week out: “Wait and see.”

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members.

A. Weaver: I’ve got some cheerleaders on the opposite side today. It’s good.

 

The former Housing critic made it clear that tackling foreign speculation was the most important step that could be taken. There are plenty of actions that could be taken now to close loopholes. Sure, we’re tracking and collecting data and working with our federal partners. All could be done outside of the budget process.

My question to the Municipal Affairs and Housing is: why has the government been silent on the foreign demand issues since taking over government?


Answer


Hon. C. James: Thanks to the member. In fact, you can check off a couple of those pieces. The work we’re doing with the federal government is already done. We included information-sharing in September. Those are exactly conversations that are going on. That’s a piece that’s happening now.

You can also check off, Member, the issue of closing the fixed-term loophole to be able to protect tenants from unfair landlords who were looking at year leases.

You can also check off investing in the residential tenancy branch to protect tenants and support good landlords.

And I would remind the member, as well, that in fact, the information that came forward on the foreign buyers data showed very clearly that one measure simply doesn’t work. A comprehensive approach is needed. That is what we are looking at now to end speculation of the real estate market. I look forward to the member’s ideas so we can put a plan together long term that is going to address affordability.

When will the BC Government start dealing with our housing crisis?

Today in the Legislature I was up in Question Period. I took the opportunity to continue pressuring the government to commit to demand-side housing reforms.

Housing affordability is the single most pressing issue facing British Columbians. As mentioned in the exchange below, I’ve sat through question period for the last two months and have yet to hear any questions of substance from the BC Liberals on this topic.

I’m not entirely happy with the response to my supplemental question and will continue to pressure government to deal with speculation in our real estate sector.

Below I reproduce the video and text of the exchange.


Video of Exchange



Question


A. Weaver: The single biggest issue facing British Columbians today is the issue of housing affordability. I’ve now sat in this question period for a full two months, and I’ve yet to hear anything of substance in question period from members opposite. As a consequence….

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members.

A. Weaver: As a consequence, please let me pick up the file.

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Member, if you could please be seated for a moment.

Members, I’m not sure this is a productive use of the time in the House here.

Member, please continue.

A. Weaver: As a consequence, I’ll pick up the file.

The B.C. Liberals introduced the B.C. home owner mortgage and equity partnership in early 2017. The then opposition housing critic and now Attorney General called the program “completely bizarre,” and he said: “It’s an incredibly poorly thought-out policy.” And he further noted our provincial government’s — that’s the previous government — response is to encourage people to take on more debt and subsidize the debt. It’s bizarre, he said.

I agree, and so does Evan Siddall, the president and CEO of the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, who said this: “Programs that support demand in supply-constrained markets like Vancouver serve primarily to increase prices and make the affordability problem worse.”

In reference to the stated goal of the program and the program and making houses more affordable, he stated: “I’m joined by loud chorus of economists in insisting that it will do the exact opposite.”

My question is this. When will this government eliminate the program, which nothing more than incentivize British Columbians to take on more debt than they can afford, a reckless incentive particularly when the interest rates are rising, as they have twice already this year?


Answer


Hon. C. James: Thank you to the member for the question. I think, as the member pointed out, after 16 years of ignoring the housing crisis in British Columbia, there’s a lot of work that has to be done.

I’m very proud of the first steps we took — in less than two months after being sworn in, in government — in our budget update by announcing funding for 1,700 affordable housing units and 2,000 modular housing units.

We’ve also added resources to the residential tenancy branch to support good landlords and good tenants in the work that they do.

We’ve also improved information sharing with the homeowner grant and the Income Tax Act to look at speculation and how we address the speculation.

On the member’s specific question around the B.C. partnership program. It is being looked at as part of the budget. The member will know from the budget update that the amount of money has been reduced in that program, because the previous government predicted about $700 million over three years as usage. We have reduced that by $500 million because the program has been underutilized because of the concerns that the member has raised. So this is being looked at as part of the budget process.


Supplementary Question


A. Weaver: The members opposite seem to think that if I don’t hurl a character assassination at government, it’s a softball question, as opposed to a question dealing with real issues facing British Columbians.

Yesterday, Global News noted New Zealand’s approach to tackle their housing crisis and clamp down on offshore ownership and speculation. The story included a very disturbing comment attributed to government: “Foreign ownership of homes is not being considered as part of the budget 2018 planning.”

There’s a lot of foreign capital out there looking for a safe place to park money in these tumultuous times. Foreign investors have turned to our real estate sector, thereby turning our houses and land into commodities for investing in speculation, not living in or working on. Our residents are paying a social cost, as they can’t afford to live in the places that they work.

Yesterday I also received an email from a rural farm and ranch realtor who had been approached on behalf of a limited company based in Hong Kong looking to purchase 35,000 acres of farmland in British Columbia. The stories are never ending.

This government continues to focus on the supply side of housing. When will this government step in to clamp down on foreign money flooding into our real estate sector and agricultural markets like other jurisdictions have done internationally?


Answer


Hon. C. James: Thanks to the member for the questions and the ideas and the solutions to take a look at speculation and closing loopholes. Stay tuned for more information this afternoon around one piece of that.

I’m working with the Minister of Housing. We’re working together on both the demand and supply side. It is critical, as the member has pointed out, that we look at both pieces.

The member will know that tax measures are not talked about before the budget comes out so that we ensure that people don’t utilize tax information to their own personal benefit. That will come out as part of the February budget.

I can assure the member that speculative issues are being looked at — how we close the loopholes. It’s all part of a comprehensive housing strategy that we are going to be proud to table and proud to implement in this province.

Pressing the government to commit to demand-side housing reforms

Today in the legislature I rose to question the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing about the government’s apparent inaction on the affordability file. When I attended the Union of BC Municipalities 2017 convention last week I heard  the Premier give his address to delegates. In it he once more focused only on the supply side of the affordability crisis. But there are also problems on the demand side.

As I have argued for four years, there is a glaring tax loophole that needs to be closed. This Bare Trust loophole incentivizes speculation, discourages transparency and encourages property tax avoidance.

Below I reproduce the video and text of my question period exchange with the Minister. I also reproduce the media release we put out today.

I was not statisfied with the response to my questions. Over the coming weeks we’ll continue to pressure the government to deliver on their commitment to clamp down on rampant real estate speculation in British Columbia.


Video of Exchange



Question


A. Weaver: It seems fitting that I rise and ask a question after this.

Last week, at the UBCM, the Premier took a page out of the B.C. Liberals’ failed strategy to deal with Metro Vancouver’s housing crisis. “We need more supply,” he proclaimed to the delegates. Once more our government has missed the glaring problems on the demand side. Where is their promised speculation tax? Where are the so many other steps that they said they would do and that they would take during the election campaign? And why, after I raised it here in the Legislature almost four years ago, has this government not yet closed a loophole that incentivizes speculation, discourages transparency and encourages property tax avoidance?

My question through you to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing is this: why haven’t you already closed the bare trust loophole — a loophole so big you could drive a bus through it — and ensure that the property tax is applied on the transfer of beneficial ownership and not just the transfer of title?


Answer


Hon. S. Robinson: I want to thank the member down the way for the question.

It’s really important that, when we take a look at the housing crisis — a crisis that rose under the previous government that did nothing, that just pretended like it was not an issue….

Interjections.

Hon. S. Robinson: Let’s be really clear. They were saying: “If you don’t like it, move to Fort St. John.” People have been really struggling.

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members, please, we shall hear the response.

Hon. S. Robinson: It’s really important that….

Interjection.

Hon. S. Robinson: I’ve got nothing against Fort St. John, but I don’t like the government telling me where to live.

It’s really important that when we talk about putting together a comprehensive, affordable strategy, a comprehensive housing strategy, that addresses all of the pieces — the supply side and the demand side — that we take a look at all those levers and all the tools at our disposal, that we make sure that they work together. That’s what comprehensive means, and we need to take our time to get it right.

It’s really important. This is too important to really mess up, so we need to make sure that we’ve got it right. I’m really excited that it is coming in short order.

 


Supplementary Question


A. Weaver: Please let me remind you that when the Attorney General was in opposition, he was a very fierce critic of the B.C. Liberal housing policy or lack of a policy on affordability. Indeed, a year ago he told Reddit, the readers of Reddit: “We need to eliminate what’s called the bear trust loophole in the property transfer tax where these properties can transfer without property transfer tax paid. It’s costing us literally hundreds of millions of dollars, hundreds of millions that could be used for affordable housing initiatives.”

It’s a straightforward fix. All we have to do is what Ontario has already done years ago. We don’t need to rediscover the wheel, and there is no excuse for a delay.

My question through you to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing is this: what’s the holdup? You’ve had many years in opposition identifying problems, and you’ve had many years to identify solutions. The Attorney General has identified those solutions, said he’d do it. It’s a quick fix. Why haven’t you done it?


Answer


Hon. S. Robinson: I’m grateful that, with the help of member down the way, we’ll have 4½ years to get this work done. And I look forward to that work.

After ten weeks here in government, we have acted on a promise to increase funding for the residential tenancy branch. We are preparing to close unfair loopholes that allow landlords to bypass rent control, something that the previous minister said was rather complicated, which we learned was actually not that complicated.

We’ve announced the creation of 2,000 units of modular housing with wraparound services. We also announced 1,700 unit of affordable housing throughout the province.

That’s in ten weeks. Just think about what we are going to get done in 4½ years.


Media Release


Weaver presses B.C. NDP to commit to demand-side housing reforms
For immediate release
October 3, 2017

VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party, today questioned housing Minister Selina Robinson on the B.C. NDP government’s intentions to take action to cool the housing market.

“Last week at UBCM the Premier indicated that his government’s solution to the problem of housing affordability is to simply add more supply,” Weaver said.

“Once more our government has missed the glaring problems on the demand side. When in opposition, Minister Eby was a fierce critic of the government’s failure to act, and argued that the bare trust loophole costs British Columbia hundreds of millions of dollars that could be used for affordable housing initiatives. The government can take action immediately to close the bare trust loophole that incentivizes speculation, discourages transparency and encourages property tax avoidance.

“The B.C. Greens are committed to proposing bold solutions to the affordable housing crisis that is facing so many communities. I have previously called for the non-resident foreign buyer’s tax to be extended to the entire province, as communities from Victoria to Nelson face a housing crunch. I have also called for a ban on foreign ownership of ALR land over five acres, in order to stem speculation and protect British Columbia’s food security.

“The purpose of housing should be to provide homes for British Columbians – not a commodity that is wide open to international speculation. The B.C. Greens will continue to propose bold, actionable solutions to the housing affordability crisis that is uprooting so many communities across our province. As an opposition caucus, we will continue to push government to take action so that no British Columbian is faced with the terrible reality of being priced out of their own community due to real estate speculation.”

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Media contact
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | jillian.oliver@leg.bc.ca