Last Update: April 22nd 2020 @ 12:30pm PST
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many challenges to our lives. The BC Government has introduced many measures to help protect renters during the state of emergency. The Community Law Program here at the Community Legal Assistance Society helps renters in the area of housing security. We are here to answer your questions. To help, we’ve answered some of your frequently asked questions below.
- I was laid-off because of COVID-19 and I wasn’t able to pay my rent on April 1. My landlord said he knows that he can’t evict me now, but told me he will give me an eviction notice as soon as he’s allowed to if I don’t pay him all the rent I owe during this time. The government supports will help, but I don’t know if they will be enough to cover all my rent and expenses until things get back to normal. Can my landlord really evict me after the ban lifts if I haven’t paid all my rent?
Unless further changes are introduced, yes, your landlord may evict you for unpaid rent after the ban on evictions is lifted. You are required to pay all of your rent for April and the coming months. If you are not able to pay all of your rent while the ban is in effect, try negotiating a payment plan with your landlord so that you can pay as much of your rent as you can now, and have a plan in place for paying back the debt you have accrued once the ban is lifted. Put your plan in writing.
- When can I apply for the new rental supplement?
The rental supplement application form will be available in mid-April. Please check the BC Housing Website regularly for up-to-date information.
Read our BC Temporary Rental Supplement FAQs for more information.
- I live in subsidized housing. Am I eligible for the rental supplement?
If your rent is subsidized by any level of government, you are not eligible for the supplement. You may, however, be eligible for a rent adjustment if your rent contribution is based on your income and you have lost income as a result of COVID-19. For more information, see BC Housing’s rent adjustment policy.
- I received a notice of a rent increase in February that was supposed to take effect in May. On May 1st, is my rent still the February amount or do I have to pay the new higher amount?
You would pay your February rent amount during the state of emergency, but the notice remains valid. Once the state of emergency is over, your rent increase will become effective again.
- Does the rent freeze apply to my subsidized housing?
If you rent is tied to your income, the rent freeze does not apply to the following housing providers:
a) the British Columbia Housing Management Commission;
b) the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation;
c) the City of Vancouver;
d) the City of Vancouver Public Housing Corporation;
e) Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation;
f) the Capital Region Housing Corporation;
g) any housing society or non-profit municipal housing corporation that has an agreement regarding the operation of residential property with the following:
(i) the government of British Columbia;
(ii) the British Columbia Housing Management Commission;
(iii) the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation;
(iv) a municipality;
(v) a regional district;
h) any housing society or non-profit municipal housing corporation that previously had an agreement regarding the operation of residential property with a person or body listed in paragraph (g), if the agreement expired and was not renewed.
- My landlord served me with an order of possession for renovations in December and I was supposed to move out on April 30th. If this state of emergency is still in effect on April 30th, can I be evicted?
No. Your landlord must not file an order of possession in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Your landlord would need to do that in order to get a writ of possession from the Court to give to a bailiff to evict you. During this time, your landlord should only obtain a writ of possession if it would be unreasonable, or unfair to landlord or other occupants of the residential property, to wait for the state of emergency to end and you or a person permitted on the residential property by you has done any of the following:
a) significantly interfered with or unreasonably disturbed another occupant or the landlord;
b) seriously jeopardized the health or safety of the landlord or another occupant;
c) put the landlord’s property at significant risk;
d) engaged in illegal activity that
i. has caused or is likely to cause damage to the landlord’s property,
ii. has adversely affected or is likely to adversely affect the quiet enjoyment, security, safety or physical well-being of another occupant of the residential property, or
iii. has jeopardized or is likely to jeopardize a lawful right or interest of another occupant or the landlord;
e) caused extraordinary damage to the residential property;
f) the rental unit must be vacated to comply with an order of a municipal, provincial or federal authority, and it would be unreasonable to wait for the state of emergency to end;
g) the rental unit is uninhabitable; or
h) the tenancy agreement is otherwise frustrated.
After the state of emergency is lifted, your landlord can resume taking steps to evict you.
- My boyfriend has been visiting me during this state of emergency. Yesterday, my landlord told me that I can’t have guests in my rental unit anymore because of COVID-19. Is my landlord allowed to prevent me from having my boyfriend over?
No, your landlord cannot restrict your or your guest’s access to your rental unit. Your landlord can, however, reasonably restrict your and your guest’s access to common areas in your building to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Can a landlord enter the rental unit for any reason (like repairs or showings)?
No, landlords are not permitted to enter the rental unit without the consent of the tenant (even if proper notice has been served) unless there is risk to personal property or life. That means your landlord cannot enter your rental unit for open houses, to show the unit to prospective tenants or to make regular repairs without your consent.
For more information:
Residential Tenancy Branch: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/housing-tenancy/residential-tenancies/covid-19
BC Housing: https://www.bchousing.org/COVID-19