BC bans evictions, freezes rent in wake of COVID-19

Laverne Higgins
March 26, 2020

She noted that "on the positive side, we now have 183 people who have fully recovered from COVID-19 in BC". "Our plan will give much-needed financial relief to renters and landlords". "It's a challenging time for landlords too".

The premier said, however, "if you can pay your rent, you should pay your rent".

The program will be administered by BC Housing.

Horgan said he doesn't want people to fear losing their homes, which "should be a place of comfort and security". Evictions have also been suspended along with all rent increases. The funds will be paid directly to landlords on behalf of tenants for up to four months.

Robinson also said landlords will have the power to restrict the use of common areas in buildings, bar visitors from buildings, and restrict how many people can be in a shared space - like a laundry room - at once.

Today's announcement is the closest thing to that promise, and it took a complete economic meltdown to provoke it.

The BC government has introduced new measures to protect renters and landlords in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 23, the provincial government announced a $5-billion stimulus package to support individuals and businesses.

Housing Minister Selina Robinson said tenants and landlords must talk to each other to find ways to cover rents and get through the pandemic.

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The province is also ordering a suspension of evictions, including those in progress already - and putting a full freeze on rental increases - until the crisis has passed.

That has had a knock-on effect for landlords who are suddenly struggling to make mortgage payments with reduced rental incomes.

Spencer Chandra Herbert, MLA for Vancouver-West End, who led the Province's Rental Housing Task Force, consulted with a broad range of tenant and landlord organizations to inform the development of these actions that meet the needs of both landlords and tenants during the pandemic. Landlords will be prevented from legally raising rents starting April 1.

"Small groups, even two or three, can sometimes be that transmission point", Henry said in her daily virus briefing.

Existing eviction notices issued by the Residential Tenancy Branch are also halted, except for safety concerns, and such cases will be up to the courts.

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.

Sadly, that is not the case, as B.C.'s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry made clear on Wednesday.

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