COVID-19 and Tenancies
Information for BC Landlords and Renters During COVID-19
Written By: Mariko Baerg, REALTOR of Bridgewell Real Estate Group
If you’re looking for a realtor to help guide you through real estate and COVID-19, call me today!
ATTENTION TENANTS AND LANDLORDS!!
On an announcement made March 25, 2020, which would come in to effect March 30, 2020, the Residential Tenancy Act has been amended to support renters and landlords during the provincial state of emergency and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The amendments are in effect for the duration of the state of emergency, and the following are the main highlights of the announcement:
Most evictions are not allowed during the state of emergency.
- Notices to end tenancy cannot be given for any reason during the state of emergency
- In exceptional circumstances, a landlord may apply directly to the Residential Tenancy Branch to end the tenancy
Landlords cannot give notice to end tenancy for:
- Unpaid rent or utilities
- Landlord or purchaser use
- End of employment as a caretaker
- End of employment if the rental unit is being rented as a condition of employment
- Demolition, renovation, and conversion of a rental unit (or closure of a manufactured home park)
- Failure to qualify for a rental unit in subsidized housing
Landlords can apply to end a tenancy if it would be unreasonable, or unfair to the landlord or other occupants of the residential property, to wait for the state of emergency to end and the tenant or a person permitted on the residential property by 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
- Engaged in illegal activity that has
- Caused or is likely to cause damage to the landlord’s property
- Adversely affected or is likely to adversely affect the quiet enjoyment, security, safety or physical well-being of another occupant of the residential property
- Jeopardized or is likely to jeopardize a lawful right or interest of another occupant or the landlord
Landlords can also apply to end a tenancy if:
- The rental unit must be vacated to comply with an order of a municipal, provincial or federal authority
- The rental unit is uninhabitable
- The tenancy agreement is otherwise frustrated
Notices to Vacate & Existing Real Estate Purchases/Sales – Difference Before & After March 30
If the notice to end tenancy was given on or after March 30, 2020, it can be ignored as the notice is of no force or effect.
- You might want to talk to your landlord about the new rules in case they are not aware
A notice given before March 30, 2020 is a valid notice and statutory timelines are in effect. If proper notice to end tenancy was given before March 30, 2020 then this vacancy is still enforceable.
Buyers that have purchased properties that are tenanted in which the landlord/seller had given proper notice prior to March 30th will still be able to move in to the property as expected.
For Buyers moving forward, please be extra aware of the type of occupancy of the home that you are purchasing as tenants cannot be evicted during the state of emergency regardless if notice is given pursuant to the contract of purchase and sale after March 30th.
A landlord can give a notice for rent increase during the state of emergency.
- The rent increase will not come into effect until the state of emergency is over
If a landlord has already given a notice for rent increase, the increase will not come into effect until after the state of emergency is over.
- For example, if your rent was set to increase on April 1, 2020, you should continue to pay your existing, pre-increase amount
- If a tenant has given their landlord post-dated cheques, the tenant should request that the cheques be returned to them and they can issue new cheques
If a landlord does collect the increase amount during the state of emergency, the tenant can deduct the additional amount from future rent payments.
Accessing Rental Units
To encourage physical distancing and minimize the transmission of COVID-19, 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.
A tenant must give consent for a landlord to enter the rental unit for the following reasons:
- Making regular repairs
- Showing the unit to prospective tenants
- Hosting an open house
Tenants do have the right to restrict showings and open houses at this time.
Restriction of Common Areas – No Rent Decrease Required
A landlord can reasonably restrict or schedule the use of common or shared areas to support social distancing and prevent the spread of the virus.
- This applies to both tenants and guests of the rental building
- A landlord must not prevent or interfere with the access to the tenant’s rental unit
The landlord does not need to amend their rent to a lower rate due to the restriction of the common areas, as it is out of their control and for the overall safety and health of residents in the building.
Paying Rent is Still Required & Missed Rent is Due Payable
A common misconception at this time is that rent is not due, which is simply not true.
While the rental supplement is designed to help renters pay their rent during this emergency, renters will be responsible for any outstanding rent owing after the state of emergency has ended.
The fact of the matter is that although evictions cannot happen during the state of emergency, the legislation still requires that tenants pay rent in full and on time.
- The state of emergency temporarily suspends a landlord’s ability to end a tenancy if a tenant does not pay the rent in full and on time
- Any outstanding rent due after the state of emergency is lifted is still owing
- Tenants who are able to make even a partial rent payment are encouraged to do so to avoid future eviction
- A tenant who has not paid rent could face eviction once the state of emergency is over
The people providing rental housing rely on rent payments to pay for their utilities, mortgages and other bills related to the rental property. If renters are unable to pay the full rent or need more time, they are encouraged to inform their landlord and to apply for the supplement and other support programs.
Tenants facing difficulty as a result of the COVID-19 crisis should consider all assistance that is available to them, including:
- The B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers
- Temporary Rent Supplement
- Federal government financial supports
- There are existing programs for renters, such as Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) and the Rental Assistance Program (RAP).
Renters and landlords are encouraged to do their best to come to mutual solutions during the pandemic. People with specific questions should contact the Residential Tenancy Branch.
More information on these programs is available online.
Temporary Rent Supplement
To support renters who are facing a loss of income during the pandemic, a new Temporary Rental Supplement (TRS) will also offer up to $500 a month to help renters pay part of their rent and help ensure landlords continue to receive at least some rental income right now.
While the program has just launched, qualified tenants will be able to receive supplemental rent support for April, May and June 2020. This supplement is in addition to funding available from the federal government and the $1,000 B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers.
The temporary rent supplement will provide up to $500 per month.
- It will be available to low to-moderate-income renters who are facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, but do not qualify for existing rental assistance programs
- Applications for the supplement are open now and available on the BC Housing website
- The supplement will be paid directly to landlords
Applying for the Rent Supplement – Applications Now Open!!!
Please note you will need to prove income loss and tenancy, this is directly from the application process:
Proof of Income Loss
Submit one of the following for every family member aged 19 years or over whose employment income has decreased as a result of COVID-19.
- Record of Employment
- Copy of application for Employment Insurance or screenshot of current EI claim from My Service Canada online account
- Copy of application for Canada Emergency Response Benefit or screenshot of current CERB claim from My Service Canada online account
- Letter from your employer regarding reduced hours and reason
Proof of Tenancy and Rent
Submit one or more of the following to confirm tenancy and current monthly rent.
- Tenancy Agreement / Notice of Rent Increase
- Recent Rent receipt (within past 3 months)
- Bank statement showing recent rent payment to your landlord (within past 3 months)
- Letter from Landlord confirming tenancy and monthly rent
If you’re looking for guidance on real estate and COVID, we’re here to help. Whether it’s discussing prices, the future, buying or selling, start a conversation by calling 604-765-0376. Prefer text? 604-319-0200 or email [email protected]. We’re here to help.
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