Prince Edward Island Housing Minister Brad Trivers told reporters Tuesday that a rent registry may not be necessary to enforce rent increase limits in the province.

This appears to go back to a commitment he made a year ago, when he told the House government that he had committed the necessary funds to make the registry a reality.

The shift in stance came as Trivers confirmed that an update to Prince Edward Island’s 30-year-old rental laws likely won’t be introduced in the Legislative Assembly until the fall. .

The idea of ​​using a rental registry to track changes in rental prices over time was originally proposed by the opposition in a non-binding motion passed in the House in November 2019.

In March 2021, Trivers said at home “we have funds set aside and we’re going out and we’re going to figure out exactly how we can do a rental registry properly, so we can make this a reality.”

On Tuesday, Trivers said the province is still awaiting a consultant’s report on the matter, raising doubts about whether the government sees the registry as necessary.

“Really, the question isn’t ‘Do we need a rental registry?’ It’s ‘How are we going to make sure our laws and regulations are properly enforced and enforced?’” he told reporters.

Maximum rent increase 2021: 1%

Rent increases in Prince Edward Island are regulated by the Island Regulatory and Appeal Board, which sets a maximum annual increase. For 2021, the maximum increase has been set at 1%.

Landlords who want to raise rents beyond that amount are supposed to apply to the commission, and the limits remain in place even if a tenant vacates a unit and a new tenant moves in.

A 2019 motion passed by the Green Party called on the government of Prince Edward Island to create a registry to track rental rates in the province. (Radio Canada)

But the law is only enforced on a complaint basis – meaning a new tenant must find out how much the previous tenant of a unit was paying, and then file a complaint with the IRAC if they believe that the landlord raised the rent more than expected.

The idea of ​​a rental registry aims to provide a repository for this information, and a popular registry set up by a federal Green Party candidate in the province led to the IRAC ordering landlords to return thousands of dollars. to tenants who have discovered that they are paying too much.

The cost of housing is one of the factors pushing up Prince Edward Island’s inflation rate, which for months has been the highest in the country.

Biggest rent increase in a decade

In 2021, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation concluded that average rents in Prince Edward Island – including rents for newly built units, which would not initially fall under the province’s rate control – increased by 8%, the largest increase in a decade.

Vacancy rates have also remained stubbornly low, with the rate for 2021 determined by CMHC being 1.5%.

A year ago, PEI Housing Minister Brad Trivers pledged to create a rental housing registry. He now says the government is awaiting a consultant’s report on the matter and that ultimately a register may not be needed to enforce rent increase limits under new tenancy legislation . (Rick Gibbs/CBC)

The province has been working on a new tenancy law for years, a task begun under the previous Liberal government.

Trivers said when the new Residential Tenancies Act is ready to be tabled in the Legislature — likely during the fall sitting — it could be enforced without having to track how much Islanders are paying in different apartments across the country. Isle.

“So that we don’t end up having a third-party solution to try to catch people who aren’t – and a relatively small number is what it is – who aren’t respecting [the law]“, said Trivers.

“Any bill we’ve introduced doesn’t preclude a rental registry. It could happen if deemed necessary, of course.”

“Financiarization” of the housing market: the Greens

On Tuesday, Green Party members cited the lack of movement on a rental housing registry as just one example of the King government’s failure to address the province’s housing crisis.

In a motion calling on the government to regulate home purchases the same way it regulates land ownership through the Lands Protection Act, Peter Bevan-Baker described the “financialization” of the housing market in PEI . the owner, but as an investment.”

The Green Party said the government had failed to address the province’s housing crisis. (Government of PEI)

Forty per cent of the province’s rental units are now owned by real estate investment trusts, or REITs, the Greens said Tuesday, saying much of the rental income and income taxes generated by those units now go outside the home. ‘Isle.

“When housing is both a human right and an investment opportunity, the government must ensure that the rights and needs of the most vulnerable community are protected,” he said.