FREDERICTON (GNB) – The 90-day review of the rental landscape in New Brunswick is now complete.

In light of public perception that rental rates within the province have unreasonably and unpredictably spiked during the pandemic, Premier Blaine Higgs committed during the Feb. 10 state of the province address to undertaking a 90-day rental review looking at existing data, listening to New Brunswicker’s lived experiences, and learning from other jurisdictions.

Over a three-month period, a project team with representatives from nine provincial departments engaged stakeholder organizations and residents throughout the province to collect and compare personal experiences with evidence-based data. Tenants, landlords, developers, community advocacy groups, businesses, banks, municipal planners, and other stakeholders participated in the review, which included 19 engagement sessions, eight group workshops with over 170 attendees, and an online survey with over 5,500 responses.

“For the first time, government adopted a One Team One GNB approach and established a cross-departmental project team to lead the rental review,” said Cheryl Hansen, clerk of the executive council and head of the public service. “I thank the project team for their work in providing a thorough, fair and objective review of the rental situation in our province. The information provided in this report will guide government in its decision-making and with identifying improvements moving forward.”

The review highlighted gaps in access to affordable and adequate housing for many New Brunswickers. While the incidence of low income has improved in recent years, and the province has experienced steady growth in population and the economy, there are vulnerabilities as it relates to housing for specific population groups.

“One thing that has been made clear from these findings is that there is no one quick fix to correct systemic challenges,” said Hansen. “Our response will require collective action by all levels of government with support from non-profit organizations, businesses, and community organizations.”

The report found that, like other parts of the country, New Brunswick is now facing lower vacancy levels than in the past and generally higher rents, which is putting pressure on access to affordable housing. There are challenges in the system that the pandemic has amplified. The challenges include:

An existing gap between what New Brunswickers need and what is available on the rental market.

  • The costs of building and maintaining rental units are rising.
  • Lower-cost housing units are reported as inadequate.
  • Many New Brunswickers are making hard choices to stay housed, and feel unprotected.
  • Developing affordable housing can be full of roadblocks.
  • Communities in rural areas have unique challenges.

The review identified solutions that are already underway and put forward new recommendations that would:

  • strengthen existing government services;
  • provide Incentives for tenants, landlords and developers;
  • review and revise the New Brunswick Residential Tenancies Act to, for example, limit rent increases to once a year and provide better protection against unreasonable rent increases;
  • ensure the recruitment of future construction workers and builders;
  • create new partnerships with organizations such as the New Brunswick Multicultural Council and the New Brunswick Business Council; and
  • involve tenants, landlords and developers in the re-design of services.

The complete review with recommendations has been submitted to the provincial government for review and identification of next steps.

The 90-day review of the rental landscape in New Brunswick is available online.