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



The Manitoba government has introduced a bill that could make it tougher for landlords to increase rents above inflation. If passed, landlords would only be able to apply for rent hikes beyond the annual provincial guideline under specific conditions, such as facing significant increases in taxes, utilities, or security costs, or when investing in major capital projects like plumbing and heating.


Currently, landlords in Manitoba can apply to a residential tenancies director for higher rent increases for any reason. The new bill aims to restrict this to ensure that tenants aren't burdened with high rent due to minor changes like a fresh coat of paint. Lisa Naylor, the minister for consumer protection and government services, emphasized that the bill is designed to ensure applications for rent increases are based on significant expenses.


Another key aspect of the bill is the provision for phased-in rent increases. Instead of a steep hike happening all at once, the residential tenancies director could order these increases to be spread out over several years.


The Opposition Progressive Conservatives have expressed concerns, suggesting that the bill may not offer sufficient protection for tenants. Tory legislature member Josh Guenter pointed out that upcoming tax changes could lead to higher costs for renters. He noted that the elimination of the education property tax rebate for commercial and rental properties next year will likely result in increased expenses for landlords, which could then be passed on to tenants.


On the flip side, the bill includes incentives for landlords to create new housing. It proposes a 10-year exemption from the rent guideline for landlords who convert non-residential properties, like commercial buildings, into rental units. Naylor mentioned that this could encourage the development of much-needed housing in the province.


Currently, certain rental units, such as those built within the last 20 years, those with monthly rents of $1,615 or more, and some social housing properties, are already exempt from the provincial rent guideline cap.


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