COVID-19 information for Renters & Landlords in British Columbia

COVID-19 information for Renters & Landlords in British Columbia

This week, Vera Sal, National Manager of our Property Management division attended a webinar hosted by Landlord BC to ensure our property managers in B.C. had the most up to date information on how COVID-19 is affecting our tenants and landlords. While Canada is in the midst of a public health crisis, tenant-landlord relationships will require more communication and understanding than ever. As more information regarding government programs and supports becomes available, we are staying on top of the information provided and have compiled the facts for British Columbians for you below.

What Services Are Available to Renters Facing Layoffs Due to COVID-19?

Renters can apply to the Renters Assistance Program or RAP, where up to $500 per month will be paid directly to the landlord.

This benefit is for eligible, low and moderate-income renters who are struggling to pay their rent due to COVID-19.

Applications will open in mid-April. Tenants and landlords will each need to apply.

The BC Emergency Benefit.

Individuals can receive a one-time, tax-free $1,000 payment to British Columbians whose ability to work has been affected by COVID-19.

This benefit is available to B.C. residents who receive Employment Insurance, or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is a taxable benefit of $2,000/month for up to 4 months to:

  • Quarantined or sick with COVID-19.
  • Taking care of sick family members with COVID-19.
  • Parents who must stay home to care for their children due to school and daycare closures (regardless if they qualify for EI) and for the self-employed and those who do not qualify for regular E.I. benefits.

 Common FAQ’s

What if my Tenant Does Not Pay Rent?

  • Tenants are still legally required to pay rent.
  • Communicate with your tenant.
  • Do not serve a Notice to End Tenancy.
  • If possible, enter into a payment agreement to defer rent.
  • If an agreement cannot be made, document the unpaid amount.

 My family member would like to move into the rental unit in two months; am I able to serve the 2 Month Notice to End Tenancy?

No, as of March 30th, 2020 and for the duration of the State of Emergency, landlords are prohibited from serving any Notice to End Tenancy.

I served a Notice to End Tenancy last month, is this notice still effective? 

Yes, notices served before March 30th, 2020 are still effective, and landlords can obtain an Order of Possession though enforcement through a Writ of Possession. Any action would be delayed until after the State of Emergency is lifted.

I served a Notice of Rent Increase to be effective March 1st 2020; does the tenant pay their previous rent or pay the new rent? 

If the effective date was before March 30th, 2020, the tenant would need to pay the increased amount.

My agreement states that the rent will increase by a specific amount for each additional occupant. My tenant has moved in a new occupant. Is this clause in my agreement still valid? 

Yes, rent may vary depending on the number of occupants. This must be in the agreement to be effective.

 My tenant still has friends over to visit during this social-distancing; am I able to restrict guests from entering tenanted units? 

No, landlords are not permitted to limit access to rental units. If you are concerned, you may choose to contact the local health authority or the police through the non-emergency line.

How do I sign off on a Condition Inspection if I need to keep my distance? 

Consider conducting the inspection via a video call service and request the tenant sign an emailed copy of the inspection.

Other Considerations 

Landlords must request and obtain permission to enter a tenanted unit while this State of Emergency is in place unless there is an emergency that requires entry to prevents risk to personal property or life.

Landlords and Tenants are prohibited from serving documents in person directly to another person.

Rent Increases with an effective date of April 1st, 2020 or later will not be effective until the State of Emergency is lifted.

The Takeaway

The COVID-19 situation is increasingly difficult to navigate and can lead to frustration, errors and serious consequences if the communications are not managed correctly. As more landlords are reaching out for help with Property Management Services, we are making our resources available and expanding our Property Management Division to accommodate your needs.  If you are still apprehensive about managing your property during this time, please reach out to us. We are happy to help you with the management of your existing tenancy or vacant property.  Please contact us here.