12/11/2014 08:11 EST | Updated 12/11/2014 08:59 EST

B.C. Rent Control Hike Would Hurt Tenants: NDP

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The B.C. NDP is criticizing the province's Liberal party for a proposal that would hike the percentage by which landlords can increase their tenants' rent each year.

“Rent control in B.C. is there to provide some predictability for tenants, and this predictability is really important for people as they set their budgets and decide where to settle their families,” David Eby, New Democrat spokesperson for housing, said in a Wednesday press release.

“For [Housing] Minister [Rich] Coleman to throw all that into question by suggesting he might remove or weaken what little rent control exists in this province, shows he doesn't understand the needs of B.C.’s renters.”

Last week, Coleman told The Province that his party would soon be exploring the possibility of upping the rent control rate, which currently sits at a two per cent annual increase plus inflation.

“If my municipality increases property taxes by six per cent, landlords have no way of recovering that," he explained to the paper. "The same applies to increases like sewer and water ... Other options may also be put on the table.”

But B.C. landlords are allowed to raise rent after renovations or between tenants, Eby notes. They are also allowed to apply to have raise their rents above the limit if their expenses increase.

Eby instead thinks the focus should be on how to help make B.C. housing more affordable for its residents.

“A study by the B.C. Non-Profit Housing Association found a full quarter of renters in this province are putting 50 per cent or more of their income towards the roof over their heads,” he said.

“Taking away or weakening rent controls in a market like this, where thousands are already struggling to make ends meet, is not just poor policy, it’s a cruel way to bring in the holiday season for many B.C. families."

Coleman's ministry told Metro News in a statement that “no decision has been made.”

Rent and property value are especially hot topics in Vancouver, a city categorized as one of North America's most expensive. Vancouver has 1.1 million renters, The Province reports.

The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city is nearly $1,500 according to News 1130.

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