UPDATE: Evictions suspended, $500 rebate to help renters, landlords in B.C. | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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UPDATE: Evictions suspended, $500 rebate to help renters, landlords in B.C.

March 25, 2020 - 2:22 PM

Renters and landlords in B.C. are getting help from the provincial government to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The measures were announced by Premier John Horgan at a news conference today, March 25.

The measures include a subsidy of up to $500 a month for four months for those who are in financial distress and need the money. This will also help landlords pay their bills, Horgan said.

"With lost jobs and lost wages due to COVID-19, many tenants are worried they can't make the rent. It's a challenging time for landlords too," Horgan said. "Nobody should lose their home as a result of COVID-19. Our plan will give much-needed financial relief to renters and landlords. It will also provide more security for renters, who will be able to stay in their homes without fear of eviction or increasing rents during this emergency."

People will apply through the federal Employment Insurance program and payments will go directly to the landlords. It will take a bit of time to set up the application process and get the payments out, Horgan said.

There are 500,000 renters in B.C. and all, technically, may want to access the program but Horgan encouraged only those who need it to access it.

There is also a moratorium on evictions during this time although, Horgan said, there will be some exceptions. Health and safety concerns may factor into that.

As well, the province is freezing new annual rent increases during the state of emergency.

“We don’t want people to think they might have to leave their homes because of this pandemic,” Horgan said.

"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," Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson said. "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."

Horgan also encouraged banks and financial institutions to help people who are having trouble paying their mortgages.

Other measures being taken by the B.C. government include:

  • Preventing landlords from accessing rental units without the consent of the tenant except in exceptional cases where it is needed to protect health and safety or to prevent undue damage to the unit.
  • Restricting methods that renters and landlords can use to serve notices to reduce the potential transmission of COVID-19 (no personal service and allowing email).
  • Allowing landlords to restrict the use of common areas by tenants or guests to protect against the transmission of COVID-19.
  • Adjourning and rescheduling hearings in situations where people need additional time to prepare and extending timelines for filing applications for dispute resolution.

Go here for the latest information on the province's COVID-19 support.

— This story was updated at 2:21 p.m. Wednesday, March 25, 2020, to include additional information from the province.

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