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The rent limit expires this year, there will be no extension, says the minister

New Brunswick will not extend the rent cap it imposed this year to protect renters from skyrocketing increases.

The cap, which prevented rents from rising above 3.8 percent, expires on December 31.

An amendment was introduced to the Housing Rent Act on Thursday, which does not extend the upper limit, but links certain rent increases to the consumer price index if the tenant disputes it.

New Brunswick Housing and Services Minister Jill Green said the bill still provides protections for tenants but will not deter developers.

Advocates favor a cap

Affordable housing advocates have called for the rent cap to be extended since it was announced, saying renters are not protected without it.

Before the rent cap was introduced, tenants across the province reported receiving notices of rent increases up to 55 percent. A Statistics Canada report released in April 2021 found that New Brunswick saw the largest increase in rents in Canada from March 2020 to March 2021.

Green Party leader David Coon said on Thursday that the end of the rent cap would hurt people.

“We know that rent restrictions keep people housed,” he said. “And in the absence of that [a] If there is a rent cap in this market, a lot of people will lose their housing.”

The amendment would give the Residential Tenancies Tribunal the ability to spread the rent increase over two or three years if it is higher than the consumer price index. This index measures changes in the cost of living year-over-year and currently shows a 6.9 percent increase.

This means that the rent sharing option is only available to people whose rent increases are 6.9 percent or more.

Green said the landlord cannot impose another rent increase during those two or three years.

He also said the province will monitor rent increases after the cap expires.

“I hope there won’t be a flood of changes, but we will adjust accordingly as we experience more volume [of complaints] than usual,” he said.

The change would also give tenants 60 days instead of 30 to appeal a rent increase.

And that would limit the reasons for an acceptable increase.

Tenants who have already received notice of a rent increase that will take effect on or after Jan. 1 have 60 days after the new rules take effect to request a review, even if they received the increase notice months ago.

These rules would still only come into play if the tenant were to appeal the rent increase. The only way to challenge the rent increase would be to go to the tenants’ court.

Coon said the new measures aren’t a good substitute for a rent cap because tenants still have to go through bureaucratic hurdles to get relief.

“It is not a restriction because the responsibility is not on the landlord,” he said. “The composition is up to the tenants. And that’s the problem with this legislation in general.”

Raising the rent of the entire apartment is not an acceptable reason

Current legislation says that when someone goes to court over a rent increase, the landlord must prove that the new rent is “reasonable” compared to other units in the same geographic area, or that all units in the building will receive the same increase.

The change would eliminate raising all units as an acceptable reason, so even if all parts of the building receive the same rent increase, the landlord would still have to prove the new rent is reasonable.

If the landlord cannot prove that the rent increase is reasonable, the court can reject it.

However, if the court agrees to the increase, the amendment adds two more options: the court can change the effective date of the increase or spread the increase over a period of time so that there are no large differences in the rent level from one month. .

How the court would be able to distribute the rent increase is decided by Statistics Canada based on the consumer price index.

If the rent increase is greater than the index, but less than double, the rent increase can be spread over two years, with half of the increase in the first year and the other half in the second year.

If the rent increase is twice the CPI or more, the rent increase can be spread over three years, with a third of the increase applied each year.