Friday, 05 June, 2020

Province making $500 a month available to renters due to COVID-19

BC announces $500-per-month rental supplement, temporary halt on evictions BC bans evictions, freezes rent in wake of COVID-19
Gustavo Carr | 26 March, 2020, 13:26

"The stress is off the charts right now".

The only catch is that the $500 would be paid directly to the landlord on the renter's behalf.

"People are feeling a lot of fear and anxiety and they need to be able to depend on the comfort and stability of home right now".

The British Columbia government will offer financial relief to renters and landlords to ensure people have safe homes during the novel coronavirus pandemic, Premier John Horgan said Wednesday.

Annual rent increases are now frozen during the state of emergency and landlords are now prevented from accessing rental units without the consent of the tenant (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", the province stated in a press release.

Earlier this week, the AMS joined nine student unions across the province asking the BC government to freeze rent payments and ban evictions.

"With lost jobs and lost wages due to COVID-19, many tenants are anxious they can't make the rent", said Horgan, who added that it's a challenging time for landlords too.

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

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More on the latest advice on physical distancing and other COVID-19 precautions can be found through the B.C. Ministry of Health and the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

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.

The province is restricting methods that renters and landlords can use to serve notices as well to reduce the potential transmission of COVID-19 by disallowing personal service and allowing email.

"All across the country, students are being encouraged to move out of student housing with little to no notice, forced to find alternate accommodation".

The province did not announce aid for people struggling to make mortgage payments, but Horgan expressed hope that financial institutions will see the wisdom of doing what they can to help people through a tough time. It also provides tax relief and other supports for businesses, people and organizations.

In an address to the public, Horgan stated that this package is not for everyone, but rather the people who are most in need.

"Students often ... either are ineligible for EI or take on seasonal work, often in the tourism and hospitality industry".

Dr. Henry says she also has concerns about a possible spread of COVID-19 in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.