CTV News: N.B. renters welcome one-year cap with hopes for it to become lower, permanent

Posted March 25, 2022

 

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs is hoping “responsible behaviour” from landlords will address soaring monthly rent bills, as rent control advocates call for his government’s one-year cap to become permanent and lower.

Tuesday’s provincial budget included a one-year rent cap at 3.8 per cent retroactive to Jan. 1.

The government’s decision to introduce a cap was admittedly a change of thought for Higgs, whose government had resisted the measure.

“Ideally we like the free market to be able to manage fairly with their costs and with their tenants,” said Higgs.

As monthly bills hit highs last November, the province passed legislation to limit any rent increase to once every year, and ban them entirely during the first year of tenancy.

Higgs said his government would only commit to a one-year cap at this time.

“We’ll have the rent control for a year, but we expect landlords to be fair and reasonable with their rents,” he said.

“If we don’t see responsible behaviour within the industry, then it will be evaluated in a year’s time, and we’ll decide if it’s necessary or not.”

New Brunswick Green Party Leader David Coon said the rent cap at 3.8 per cent was welcomed, noting it was a “bit high” compared to Ontario, which has a rent cap of 1.2 per cent, and British Columbia, with a rent cap of 1.5 per cent.

“But compared to the punishing rent increases people have been subject to, it will be a huge relief,” said Coon. “A review is built in and they’ll have to proactively kill it if they decide to.”

Advocacy groups, including ACORN New Brunswick, were also hoping for a lower rent cap.

"For ACORN, we initially had been calling for two per cent; that was kind of the bare minimum we thought the government could do," said spokesperson Sara Lunney. "It would be great to see it lower but that’s where we’re at right now. It will be interesting to see how they will actually implement it."

Nichola Taylor says her family was “renovicted” from their Fredericton apartment earlier this year, shortly after receiving notice of a $250, then $350 increase on their $750-a-month two-bedroom unit.

She said a one-year rent cap at 3.8 per cent would provide “a bit of relief.”

“At least we know, now that we’ve moved somewhere else, we are protected for at least a year,” said Taylor.

“But this has to be more permanent because, whilst you’re a tenant, you will have this threat over you if it’s not a permanent measure.”

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Article by Nick Moore for CTV News Atlantic

 

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