Today COPE candidates reacted to the provincial government’s announcement that the maximum allowable annual rent increase will be reduced from 4.5% to 2.5% for 2019 by saying that tenant power works and that this is just the beginning.

COPE candidates have been campaigning for a Rent Freeze for a year, with over 10,000 Vancouverites signing the Rent Freeze petition. On September 7th, 2018, the Residential Tenancy Branch announced that the maximum rent increase for 2018 would increase from 4% to 4.5%. Tenants and COPE have been speaking out loudly against the 4.5% for the past 2 ½ weeks.

“It’s good that the province is reducing the annual allowable increase and it shows that tenant power works,” said Derrick O’Keefe, a COPE candidate for city council in the upcoming civic election. “This change is a result of pressure from COPE’s campaign for a Rent Freeze and the work of others, like the Vancouver Tenants Union and BCGEU, pushing for tenants’ rights and protections.”

“This is a good first step, but it’s just the beginning,” said COPE city council candidate Anne Roberts. “COPE will keep fighting for a 0% rent increase for four years in Vancouver. If the province won’t act, COPE will direct city staff to make a four year rent freeze a requirement of landlords’ business licenses. After four years we can reassess and see it it’s still needed, but for now protecting tenants should be our first priority.”

COPE city council candidate Jean Swanson added that today’s provincial announcement didn’t address rent increases between tenancies. “It’s still a huge problem that the province is allowing landlords to raise rents as much as they like when tenants leave or are evicted. By refusing to plug this loophole the province is not only contributing to higher rents, but also ensuring that evictions can be profitable. It means that long term tenants have no tenant security because landlords can raise rents if they get rid of tenants. If necessary, COPE will use the city’s business licensing powers to plug that loophole as well.”

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