BC Government announces renter support, halts evictions

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The British government, scrambling to deal with the economic fallout of the crisis, said last week that landlords should not evict commercial tenants who do not pay their rent due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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.

LANDLORDS HELP- It would be nothing short of understatement to say the Coronavirus Pandemic has been a major disruption in people's lives.

"We've been clear that no one will lose their housing because of COVID-19", said Herbert, a New Democrat.

Advocacy groups for both landlords and tenants are calling on the federal and provincial governments to offer some kind of relief before April 1.

Horgan said he doesn't want people to fear losing their homes, which "should be a place of comfort and security". Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson confirmed that the funds are meant to help low- and middle-income renters who have seen a "significant reduction" in income directly related to the spread of COVID-19, be it through reduced hours or layoffs.

Visit the B.C. Government's COVID-19 provincial support and information page to access programs and information.

Housing Minister Selina Robinson said tenants and landlords must talk to each other to find ways to cover rents and get through the pandemic. "We're helping renters pay rent and giving them the peace of mind that they have a stable home in these unprecedented times, and ensuring that landlords can count on some rental income right now to keep them afloat too".

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"Unprecedented numbers of workers are being laid off and the last thing we need in the middle of the worst pandemic in 100 years is to have them worrying that they can not eat or will be living on the streets". "I'm hopeful that other landlords will show respect for their tenants in these extraordinary times", Finance Minister Carole James said at a press conference Monday.

The additional rental assistance program will be delivered through BC Housing.

Besides the freeze on rent increases, the key change for landlords to be aware of is that it will not be possible to terminate tenancies during the lock-down period, unless the parties agree or for a limited, but specific, set of reasons. The smaller number of court-ordered evictions are up to the courts, which operate independently of government.

Freezing new annual rent increases during the state of emergency.

The province's Residential Tenancy Branch will implement several additional actions, including adjourning and rescheduling hearings in situations where people need additional time to prepare and extending timelines for filing applications for dispute resolution.

Preventing landlords from accessing rental units without the consent of the tenant (for example, for showings or routine maintenance), except in exceptional cases where it is needed to protect health and safety or to prevent undue damage to the unit.

Landlords will also be allowed to restrict the use of common areas by tenants or guests to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

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