The B.C. Government is temporarily freezing rent increases, stopping evictions, and providing $500 in supplementary support for those that can’t meet their rent.
Announced on Wednesday, the $500 will help households, adding on to other financial supports from the federal government.
“With lost jobs and lost wages due to COVID-19, many tenants are worried they can’t make the rent. It’s a challenging time for landlords too,” said Premier John Horgan. “Nobody should lose their home as a result of COVID-19.”
Horgan says their plan provides financial relief to renters and landlords, while also providing additional security to renters, without fear of being evicted or increased rental fees.
“People are feeling a lot of fear and anxiety and they need to be able to depend on the comfort and stability of home right now,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “We’re helping renters pay rent and giving them the peace of mind that they have a stable home in these unprecedented times, and ensuring that landlords can count on some rental income right now to keep them afloat too.”
The B.C. Government said the funding will support renters who have lost income as a result of COVID-19, with the money being paid directly to landlords on their behalf, ensuring the landlords continue to receive a rental income.
The rental supplement will be provided to people with low to moderate incomes that are facing financial hardship but do not qualify for other existing rental assistance programs.
“Our government is taking steps to help take some of the pressure off renters and landlords and protect people’s health,” added Robinson.
The B.C. Government came upon the measures through the Province’s Rental Housing Task Force, which consulted tenant and landlord organizations before developing the plan.
“As we work together to fight this pandemic, we can’t afford to leave anyone behind,” said Chandra Herbert, MLA for Vancouver-West End that led the Rental Housing Task Force. “That’s why I delivered recommendations that address the immediate concerns of both landlords and tenants who are doing their best at this difficult time.”
The full list of measures being taken by the province for renters and landlords is as follows:
- The new temporary rent supplement will provide up to $500 per month, paid directly to landlords.
- Halting evictions by ensuring a landlord may not issue a new notice to end tenancy for any reason. However, in exceptional cases where it may be needed to protect health and safety or to prevent undue damage to the property, landlords will be able to apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch for a hearing.
- Halting the enforcement of existing eviction notices issued by the Residential Tenancy Branch, except in extreme cases where there are safety concerns. The smaller number of court ordered evictions are up to the courts, which operate independently of government.
- Freezing new annual rent increases during the state of emergency.
- Preventing landlords from accessing rental units without the consent of the tenant (for example, for showings or routine maintenance), except in exceptional cases where it is needed to protect health and safety or to prevent undue damage to the unit.
- Restricting methods that renters and landlords can use to serve notices to reduce the potential transmission of COVID-19 (no personal service and allowing email).
- Allowing landlords to restrict the use of common areas by tenants or guests to protect against the transmission of COVID-19.
The steps taken by the Province on Wednesday are included as part of the B.C. Government’s $5-billion COVID-19 Action Plan.
More: B.C. Government COVID-19 Support Page (B.C. Government)