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B.C. improving services, wait times for tenants, landlords

December 13, 2023 at 9:21 am  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

Renters and landlords in B.C. are seeing faster and more efficient residential tenancy dispute resolutions thanks to government’s recent service improvements.

“Nothing is more frustrating for renters and landlords than when the relationship breaks down. It is vitally important that they get clear resolutions faster,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing. “That’s why we have made significant investments to improve wait times. We have made great strides over this past year to address these issues with exceptional results. The actions we are taking will only continue to speed up service and increase user clarity as we work towards ensuring that renters and landlords can easily access the services they need.”

Dispute resolution services at the Province’s Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) have substantially improved in several ways over the last year, including:

  • a 48% reduction in all tenancy dispute hearing wait times, including down to nine weeks for a standard hearing from about 16 weeks a year ago;
  • dispute resolution application processing times take, on average, about 1.4 days compared to nearly 10 days in November 2022;
  • the average wait time for service by phone is now less than seven minutes compared to more than 17 minutes last November; and
  • response times to general emails now take an average of one business day.

These improvements have occurred despite increases in both dispute applications and inquiries. The RTB saw a 10% increase in applications in 2023, averaging 2,005 applications per month, compared to an average of 1,811 per month in 2022.

“Going through a residential tenancy dispute process should be as easy, fast and hassle-free as possible, especially as this is already a stressful situation for tenants who simply want their homes to be safe, secure and stable,” said Spencer Chandra Herbert, premier’s liaison for renters. “These improvements to processes and faster service are a great step in the right direction as we work to better support B.C. tenants in ensuring they have the dependable homes they need and deserve.” 

The improved services are the result of approximately $15.6 million in additional funding, a 40% budget increase, the Province committed to the RTB in December 2022 to speed up and strengthen residential tenancy dispute resolution. The budget increase allowed the RTB to create nearly 50 full-time staff positions, including a doubling of the size of the Compliance and Enforcement Unit. The expanded capacity has allowed the unit to intervene more quickly to resolve issues that affect the livelihood of tenants and landlords in cases where serious and repeated violations of the Residential Tenancy Act occur.

“Timely access to justice at the Residential Tenancy Branch is critical for both landlords and tenants,” said David Hutniak, CEO, LandlordBC. “While there’s more work to be done, members have been telling us that they are seeing promising improvements to wait times. LandlordBC looks forward to continuing to collaborate with the branch to build upon these early encouraging results.”

Alongside improvements to wait times, the RTB has also launched updated web content as part of the Province’s continued commitment to make the branch’s services and information more accessible to tenants and landlords. The new website, which launched Dec. 7, was designed by asking users what was and was not working. With this feedback, the Province created user-focused and easier-to-navigate web content that supports efficient access to information and dispute-resolution services for tenants and landlords.

This updated web content adds to the RTB’s expanding toolkit of accessibility services, such as the recent launch of real-time interpretation for branch services in more than 200 languages. From April to October 2023, interpreter services were accessed in 134 calls and 97 hearings, spanning from American Sign Language to 14 other languages, including Arabic, French, Farsi, Hindi and Cantonese. The demand for these immediate and scheduled interpreter services has risen consistently since the launch of the service in April.

The RTB will continue to revitalize its tenancy dispute and investigation processes by improving service accessibility and increasing procedural efficiency. The work is part of the Province’s $19-billion housing investment. Since 2017, the Province has more than 77,000 homes that have been delivered or are underway.

Learn More:

To see the updated Residential Tenancy Branch web content, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/housing-tenancy/residential-tenancies

To learn more about the Residential Tenancy Branch offering service in more than 200 languages, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2023HOUS0060-000874

To learn more about government’s new Homes for People action plan, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2023HOUS0019-000436

To learn about the steps the Province is taking to tackle the housing crisis and deliver affordable homes for British Columbians, visit: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/housing

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