Vancouver -- The provincial government announced today that the maximum allowable rent increase in BC will rise from 4% in 2018 to 4.5% in 2019.

Yesterday [Sept 6th] COPE city council candidates Jean Swanson, Derrick O’Keefe, and Anne Roberts called on the provincial government to cancel the 4% rent increase. They held press conference at a rental building in Mt Pleasant, where Jean Swanson was joined by a tenant to smash a huge ‘4% rent increase’ pinata.

After today’s announcement by the province of an even higher maximum rent increase, Jean Swanson said: “It’s outrageous, it’s the opposite of what the province needs to do, they need to immediately put in a Rent Freeze and stop rent increases between tenancies. But if the B.C. government won’t do it, COPE has a plan to implement a four-year Rent Freeze using municipal powers.”

Under Vancouver’s by-law 4450, landlords already have to apply for a business license each year, which currently costs $71/year per rental unit.

“The Rent Freeze can be made a requirement of the license,” added COPE council candidate Derrick O’Keefe. “That means no rent increase for four years, either during a tenancy or between tenancies. As with the long-overdue Empty Homes Tax and short-term rental regulations, fines can be applied to landlords who don’t comply. COPE will also implement a mandatory landlord registry to track rents and rent increases.”

Any application of municipal powers to license and regulate must meet the standard of being for a clear municipal purpose. COPE believes stronger rent control and other urgently needed measures to address the housing crisis clearly meet this purpose.

“The skyrocketing of rents we’ve seen over the past decade due to a lack of vacancy control coupled with the annual allowable rent hikes continue to cause evictions, homelessness, and many costs to public health and safety,” said O’Keefe. “They’re also causing real harm to small businesses throughout Vancouver, as our neighborhoods are hollowed-out and as our family budgets are squeezed and we’re unable to spend at local shops due to out-of-control housing costs.”

Contact: [email protected]

Tristan Markle


writer, activist, researcher