Manitoba government plans new rules for rent increases and incentives for new housing

Some Manitoba landlords may have a harder time raising rents above inflation and could be ordered to phase-in increases over years if a bill introduced Thursday by the Manitoba government becomes law.

The bill would set down conditions for landlords who want to raise rents above the annual provincial guideline, which is tied to inflation. Currently, landlords can apply to a residential tenancies director for a higher rent increase for any reason and make their argument.

The bill would limit such applications to cases where landlords face a sharp rise in taxes, utilities and security costs, or where they invest in capital projects such as plumbing and heating.

“It’s just to ensure that those applications are made for significant capital projects, significant expenses to landlords, and that folks aren’t being charged above-guideline rent increases because there’s new paint,” Lisa Naylor, the minister for consumer protection and government services, said.

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The bill would also give a residential tenancies director the power to order rent increases to be phased in over a number of years instead of taking effect immediately.

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The Opposition Progressive Conservatives said the bill may not provide much protection for tenants. The bill allows for high rent increases due to sharp tax increases, and the NDP government is eliminating its education property tax rebate next year for commercial and rental properties.

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“Just on the tax side, we know that taxes are going up, renters will be paying more,” Tory legislature member Josh Guenter said.

Naylor said that for landlords, the limit on rent increases is “probably not their favourite thing” but said the bill also contains an incentive for landlords to create new housing.

The bill would offer 10-year exemptions to the rent guideline for owners who convert non-residential properties, such as commercial buildings, to rental units. The change could spur much-needed housing, Naylor said.

Some kinds of rental units are already exempt from the provincial guideline cap, including those built within the last 20 years, those that rent for $1,615 or more per month, and some social housing properties.


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