Govt mulls landlord tax cut for lower rent

Elias Hubbard
March 26, 2020

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

Metro Vancouver mayors are urging the province to freeze evictions and offer support to landlords as many B.C. tenants struggle to make ends meet because of the COVID-19 crisis.

"With lost jobs and lost wages due to COVID-19, many tenants are anxious they can't make the rent".

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

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.

James said the government is looking into further options like expanding the Shelter Aid For Elderly Renters (SAFER) subsidy for seniors and the Rental Assistance Program (RAP) for low-income working people.

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

"We don't need hope that landlords will behave at this time, we need government action to prevent all evictions during the pandemic", Burnaby ACORN's Murray Martin said in a news release.

Alan and Erin Berry of Shreveport are landlords and they have 15 rental properties and they considered the current situation regarding business closures and how it could affect their tenants, some of which who work in the hospitality industry. "We need to work together and help each other to fight Covid-19". "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".

Horgan said the province's plan is based on all 500,000 renting households claiming the temporary rent supplement payments, but that the program can be extended if not everyone makes a claim.

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. 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. Existing eviction orders with B.C.'s Residential Tenancy Branch have also been halted.

The smaller number of court-ordered evictions are up to the courts, which operate independently of government, she added.

While the freeze on rent increase applies for six months, the tenancy termination measures apply for three months.

Furthermore, landlords will be prevented from accessing rental units without the consent of the tenant, except when health and safety or damage to the unit are concerned.

The province is restricting methods that renters and landlords can use to serve notices as well to reduce the potential transmission of COVID-19 by disallowing personal service and allowing email.

Landlord will be able to restrict the use of common areas, such as laundry rooms, by tenants or guests, as well.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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