B.C. government announces new supports for renters, landlords

Dr. Bonnie Henry in the foreground and Health Minister Adrian Dix in the background

Dr. Bonnie Henry in the foreground and Health Minister Adrian Dix in the background

The temporary relief package announced Wednesday will provide eligible B.C. renters a supplement of up to $500 a month, for those whose jobs have vanished or are curtailed as a result of nationwide restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

As of Wednesday, there were 659 cases of coronavirus in B.C., including 42 new cases. Landlords will be prevented from legally raising rents starting April 1.

"This is an unbelievable thing", said Teresa Douglas, who was facing a a $50-a-month increase May 1 in the rent for the two-bedroom townhouse she and her husband rent through student housing at the University of British Columbia. "This is not an order of convenience, but a requirement to protect everyone in our province - especially our elders and those most vulnerable to severe illness - from COVID-19", she said. He added that there are around 500,000 tenant households in the province. "That will depend on the depth of the pandemic, and the time it will take for us to recover and come out the other side".

The payments will be administered through BC Housing and are on top of previously announced aid from the federal and provincial government.

It seems like every day is another day of record high numbers of new COVID-19 cases, but it looks like there could be a tiny break.

Horgan said only people unable to pay their rent should apply for the rental supplement. The logistics of the program are still being worked through.

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).

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With few exceptions, landlords will also be prevented from entering tenants' homes without consent.

Dix said B.C. has, and is, receiving some supply from the federal government's National Bank, as is working on sourcing more equipment from other sources.

"We can all make a difference but we need everyone to be 100 per cent committed to doing this", Henry said.

"The stress is off the charts right now. We need to be kind and we need everybody to do their part".

The measures are part of the province's $5 billion COVID-19 response plan - which was announced on Monday - and follow tax and payment deferral options from governments, Crown corporations and banks meant to ease the financial burdens Canadians' may be facing.

For more information on today's announcement, click this link.

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