10/26/2017 13:57 EDT | Updated 10/26/2017 15:00 EDT

B.C. moves to stop landlords from flipping tenants, hiking rent between leases

VICTORIA — British Columbia's housing minister is moving to close a loophole that has allowed landlords to bypass annual rent controls by flipping tenants and imposing large rent hikes between leases.

Selina Robinson says the changes to the Residential Tenancy Act will protect the rights of renters, who have for too long been left open to unfair rent increases and housing instability.

The minister says the Residential Tenancy Act has allowed landlords to impose a vacate clause on leases, forcing renters out of their homes and opening the way for landlords to hike rates that exceed rent control allowances for the next tenant.

Changes to the law would restrict the use of a vacate clause and would force rent control for tenants renewing a fixed-term agreement.

David Hutniak, chief executive officer for LandlordBC, says his organization has condemned abuse of vacate clauses and fixed-term agreements, and the proposed changes would prevent bad landlords from taking advantage of renters.

Robinson says the law would also streamline the dispute resolution process for the return of security and pet deposits and would mean that tenants would not have to wait months to get their money back.