BC announces $500-per-month rental supplement, temporary halt on evictions

Henrietta Strickland
March 26, 2020

The province is also enacting a rent freeze which will prevent landlords from imposing yearly rental increases during the pandemic.

The British Columbia government will offer financial relief to renters and landlords to ensure people have safe homes during the novel coronavirus pandemic, Premier John Horgan said Wednesday.

"With lost jobs and lost wages due to COVID-19, many tenants are anxious they can't make the rent". "It's a challenging time for landlords too".

"We have one additional long-term care home in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, where one healthcare worker has been detected with COVID-19, and that is the Broadway Pentecostal Lodge in Vancouver", said Henry.

The province also announced that it is freezing rent increases that would have been allowed April 1 and is halting evictions except in cases where there's a need to protect health and safety or to prevent undue damage to a property, including those where the Residential Tenancy Branch has already issued notices. The funding will be paid directly to landlords on renter's behalf.

This supplement is meant to benefit those who have low or moderate levels of income who are facing a financial strain but do not qualify for existing rental assistance programs.

Horgan said he doesn't want people to fear losing their homes, which "should be a place of comfort and security".

Horgan said the government will provide a monthly rebate of up to $500 to help cover rents or portions of rents during the coming months. It will take a bit of time to set up the application process and get the payments out, Horgan said.

He also said that this program is for people who are in "genuine distress" and that the "fewer people who access the program, the more opportunity we have to expand it moving forward". "That's why I delivered recommendations that address the immediate concerns of both landlords and tenants who are doing their best at this hard time".

The Province is implementing a number of additional measures to keep people housed and protect their health.

"We know that a lot of students' winter term jobs are coming to an end and they're applying for summer jobs not knowing whether or not those are still going to be around", she said. The Rental Tenancy Branch will remain open to resolve any disputes that may arise between renters and landlords.

Earlier this week, the AMS joined nine student unions across the province asking the BC government to freeze rent payments and ban evictions. Renters will also be able to prevent landlords from entering their units except in exceptional cases.

The province is further restricting methods that renters and landlords can use to serve notices, allowing emails but not personal service, to reduce the potential transmission of COVID-19.

Besides the new benefit, landlords now have the power to restrict access to common areas like laundry rooms or game rooms to encourage social distancing.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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