On March 25, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Province of British Columbia announced a housing plan (the “Housing Plan”) to help provide assistance to residential landlords and tenants, and further the goals for BC’s provincial economic action plan (“the Economic Action Plan”). See our bulletin on the Provincial Economic Action Plan here.
Highlights from the Housing Plan include:
- Temporary Rent Supplements - The Provincial Government is offering a new temporary rent supplement that will provide up to $500 per month for four (4) months, paid directly to landlords. Tenants will be able to apply through BC Housing, and such funds will come out of the “Critical Services” part of the Economic Action Plan announced by the Provincial Government on March 23, 2020.
- Moratorium on Eviction - Evictions have been halted, and this will ensure that a landlord may not issue a new notice to end tenancy for any reason. However, in exceptional cases dealing with health and safety or the prevention of undue damage to the property, landlords will be able to apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch for a hearing.
- Halting Enforcement of RTB Evictions - Enforcement of existing eviction notices issued by the Residential Tenancy Branch has been halted, except in extreme cases where there are safety concerns. The smaller number of court ordered evictions will be up to the courts.
- Rent Freeze - New annual rent increases during the state of emergency has been frozen. This takes effect April 1, 2020 (i.e. if it was set to increase on April 1, it will no longer increase on this date).
- Access to Units by Landlord Restricted - Landlords are prevented 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.
- Methods of Notice Restricted - Methods that renters and landlords can use to serve notices have been restricted in order to reduce the potential transmission of COVID-19 (e.g. no personal service and allowing email).
- Additional Landlord Powers - Landlords may restrict the use of common areas by tenants or guests to protect against the transmission of COVID-19. For example, landlords can restrict the number of people in a shared laundry room or close down shared spaces in a multi-purpose building.