Temporary Support Measures for Residential Tenants and LandlordsApr 21 2020
The coronavirus pandemic has left many individuals without an income and struggling to make ends meet. In an effort to help tenants remain in their residences for the duration of the state of emergency that was declared on March 18, the BC government has introduced a number of temporary support measures.
Tenants are still required to pay rent during the state of emergency. However, the state of emergency temporarily suspends a landlord’s ability to end a residential tenancy if a tenant does not pay rent. Once the state of emergency is over, a tenant who has not paid rent may be evicted. It is always open to landlords and tenants to negotiate a deferral or reduction of rent, however this requires both parties to come to an agreement.
Landlords can give a tenant a notice of rent increase during the state of emergency, however rent increase will not come into effect until the state of emergency has ended.
TEMPORARY RENTAL SUPPLEMENT
In order to assist tenants in making rent payments, the BC Temporary Rental Supplement program is available for eligible tenants. The temporary rent supplement gives $300 per month to eligible tenants with no dependents (i.e. no children) and $500 per month to eligible tenants with dependents. These payments are made directly to landlords.
In order to be eligible for the temporary rent supplement, a tenant’s household needs to meet each of the following criteria:
Low-to-Moderate Income – a tenant’s 2019 household income must be less than:
- $74,150 for singles and couples with no dependents (i.e. no children), or
- $113,040 for households with dependents (i.e. children).
Financial Hardship – as a result of COVID-19, a tenant must:
- receive or be eligible to receive employment insurance, or
- receive or be eligible to receive the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, or
- have experienced, and can provide evidence of, a drop of 25% or more in your monthly household employment income.
Rent Payments – a tenant must pay more than 30% of his/her current household income to rent.
Primary Residence – a tenant must be renting a primary residence in BC.
Rent Subsidizes – a tenant’s rent must not be subsidized by another government program.
The temporary rent supplement is available for April, May, and June 2020. A tenant only has to apply once to receive the temporary rent supplement. For instance, if a tenant applies in April, he/she will receive payment for April, May, and June.
To apply for the temporary rent supplement, visit bchousing.org/BCTRS. There is a two-step process to apply. In the first step, a tenant will need to provide some information. Once a tenant application has been reviewed and assessed as eligible, a landlord will be required to complete the second step of the application process.
Evictions, Orders of Possession, and Writs of Possession
During the state of emergency, most evictions are not permitted. For instance, a landlord cannot give notice to end a tenancy for unpaid rent or utilities. Moreover, orders of possession and writs of possession issued on or before March 30, 2020 cannot be enforced until the state of emergency is over. However, a landlord may apply to end a tenancy and/or enforce an order or writ of possession in exceptional circumstances (noted below).
If a tenant has been given a notice to end tenancy, consider whether it was given before, on, or after March 30, 2020. If a tenant was given a notice to end tenancy on or after March 30, 2020, the tenant may ignore it as it has no force or effect. If given before March 30, 2020, the notice is a valid and the tenant may:
- accept the notice to end the tenancy and the tenancy will end, or
- dispute the notice by making an application for dispute resolution within the appropriate timeline. If a tenant fails to dispute the notice within the appropriate timeline, the tenant will be deemed to have accepted that the tenancy is over.
Landlords may still apply to end a tenancy if the rental unit must be vacated to comply with an order of the government, the unit is uninhabitable or if it would be “unreasonable” or “unfair” to the landlord to wait for the state of emergency to be over AND the tenant has:
- significantly interfered with or unreasonably disturbed another occupant or the landlord of the residential property,
- seriously jeopardized the health or safety or a lawful right or interest of the landlord or another occupant,
- put the landlord’s property at significant risk,
- caused extraordinary damage to the residential property, or
- engaged in illegal activity in specific circumstances.
Landlords also may also apply for an order of possession where a tenant gives (or previously gave) a notice to end tenancy and has not vacated the rental unit. The order of possession will not be enforced until the state of emergency is over.
Landlords impacted by COVID-19 and experiencing financial hardship may be able to work with their mortgage lender to find solutions to pay their mortgages. This may include deferring up to six monthly mortgage payments.
Announcements are being made by the BC government frequently that may impact the information contained in this post, which was last update on April 21, 2020. If you are a landlord or a tenant and need further information regarding your rights and responsibilities, please contact our office at 604.853.0774 and we can set up a phone consultation with one of our lawyers.