B.C. Premier John Horgan and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson have announced new laws to protect renters and landlords during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As an add-on to B.C.’s COVID-19 Action Plan, the province is announcing a $500 per month temporary supplement fund for renters delivered through BC Housing. This amount will be paid directly to landlords. Minister Robinson says this measure was included to provide a sense of security for landlords.
The province is putting together an application process through BC Housing, which will require renters to provide proof of loss of income – like a layoff notice or notice indicating reduced hours of work – in order to be eligible for the fund.
While this fund can be accessed by every renter in B.C. who has lost income during this pandemic, Horgan appeals to people who can afford pay rent to continue to do so to allow the province to target these resources where they are most needed.
Eviction moratorium, rent freeze
The provincial government has also announced a suspension of current and future evictions until this crisis has passed, barring some exceptions for extreme circumstances.
This guarantees security for renters who cannot afford to pay rent by April 1st due to loss of income, as none of the financial assistance packages announced by the federal and provincial authorities will be available to people by the end of this month.
Premier Horgan also mentions a rent increase freeze, stating “This is not the time to increase rents.” This freeze will take effect on April 1st.
For landlords, Horgan calls on banks and financial institutions to work with landlords and allow mortgage payment deferrals in cases where tenants cannot immediately make rent payments.
As a step to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Minister Robinson announced that landlords will be allowed to restrict access to common areas – like placing restrictions on how many people can be in a shared laundry room at once – and stop visitors from entering the building.
“The province is also restricting the right of landlords to enter people’s homes unless there is a clear threat to people and to property,” said Robinson.
These decisions were made after a rapid fire consultation process with landlords and renters groups across the province conducted by Spencer Chandra Herbert, MLA for Vancouver West-End.
Earlier this week, Premier John Horgan assured residential renters that no one would be evicted as a result of financial difficulties incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With restaurants and bars ordered to shut down and various hospitality businesses closing due to decreased demand as people follow health official directives to stay at home, thousands of people have been left without a source of income.
At the time of publication, there are a total of 44 confirmed cases of coronavirus on Vancouver Island and 617 in B.C.
The federal government recently announced an $82 billion assistance package for Canadians and businesses struggling financially during the global pandemic. This was followed by a $5 billion relief package announced by the B.C. provincial government.
The provincial government also announced the indefinite suspension of all in-person classes at K-12 schools in B.C., and closure of all bars and restaurants, among other measures to enforce social distancing measures.
The BCCDC has set up a 2019 novel coronavirus telephone information line at 1-833-784-4397 for those who have further questions about this disease.
Anyone concerned that they may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of the novel coronavirus, should contact their primary care provider, local public health office, or call 8-1-1.
The Province has also created the 1-888-COVID-19 line to connect British Columbians needing non-medical information about the coronavirus pandemic.
As of the time of publication, the total number of COVID-19 patients worldwide has risen to 452,241.
Over 20,400 people have died from the illness and 113,120 have made a full recovery.