B.C. government announces eviction moratorium, $500 rent rebates

Clay Curtis
March 26, 2020

The supplemental funds will be available through B.C. Housing for the next four months and paid directly to landlords when a tenant can not pay rent.

Horgan acknowledged that $500 doesn't go a long way in B.C.'s pricey rental market, but said the money fills a gap along with the federal government's $2,000-per-month Canada Emergency Response Benefit, and the province's one-time, $1,000 B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers payment.

Housing Minister Megan Woods says the measures will ensure that people can stay in their homes during this challenging time.

Housing Minister Selina Robinson (right) has introduced new protections for renters during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The $500 is created to be used atop the financial aid from federal and provincial aid packages announced in recent days.

The supplement will be available to renters who are facing financial hardship, but do not qualify for existing rental assistance programs.

"We are doing everything we can to make sure that if (people) are sick or self-isolating, or if they have had their hours cut back or they were laid off that they would not be fearful of losing their home", Horgan said.

He acknowledged that with lost jobs and wages due to COVID-19, many tenants are anxious they can't make the rent.

Under the plan, landlords are also prevented from entering rental units without the consent of a tenant, unless there is a need to protect someone's health and safety or to prevent damage to a unit.

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"You have a relationship with your landlord, let's all hope that they're good relationships and you're going to have to find a way to work this out together", Horgan said.

On Monday, B.C. Premier John Horgan assured the public that no one will have to lose their rental housing because of COVID-19, but did not specify how the government would fulfill that promise.

"It reminds me of a "Mission: Impossible" movie, where tick, tick, tick, the time is ticking down and someone has to try to save the day before everything explodes", said William Blake, a landlord who spoke Tuesday on behalf of the Ontario Landlords Association.

The Northwest Territories joined Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec and Prince Edward Island in halting all non-urgent hearings before their landlord-tenant tribunals, effectively banning any evictions resulting from non-payment of rent.

While a landlord may not issue a new notice to end tenancy for any reason, the province is making an exception where needed to protect health and safety or to prevent undue damage to property.

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, she added.

"We definitely agree that the government should be making a rent freeze and finding ways to support low-income people". Landlords will be able to apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch for a hearing, according to the province.

Allowing landlords to restrict the use of common areas by tenants or guests to protect against the transmission of COVID-19.

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