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Province to provide rent subsidies, suspend evictions amid COVID-19 pandemic

Province to provide rent subsidies, suspend evictions amid COVID-19 pandemic”

"It also means that in the short term, families and individuals who are tenants do not lose their home due to a drop in income related to job losses through Covid-19".

"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.

It's a challenging time for landlords too", said Premier John Horgan.

"The fewer people who access the program, the more opportunity we have to expand it", said Horgan, noting there are about 500,000 renters in B.C.

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

In addition, a new rental supplement will help households by offering up to $500 a month towards their rent, building on federal and provincial financial supports already announced for British Columbians facing financial hardship.

As of the latest numbers released March 24, there are a total of 617 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in B.C. The cases span all B.C. health regions: Vancouver Coastal (330), Fraser Health (194), Island Health (44), Interior Health (41) and Northern Health (eight).

The $500 is created to be used atop the financial aid from federal and provincial aid packages announced in recent days.

The supplemental funds will be available through B.C. Housing for the next four months and paid directly to landlords when a tenant can not pay rent.

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The industry association has instead called for robust relief programs and encouraged landlords to delay planned rent increases. "I'm hopeful that other landlords will show respect for their tenants in these extraordinary times", Finance Minister Carole James said at a press conference Monday.

"Unprecedented numbers of workers are being laid off and the last thing we need in the middle of the worst pandemic in 100 years is to have them worrying that they can not eat or will be living on the streets".

Halting evictions by ensuring a landlord may not issue a new notice to end tenancy for any reason.

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. The smaller number of court-ordered evictions are up to the courts, which operate independently of government.

"We definitely agree that the government should be making a rent freeze and finding ways to support low-income people".

Furthermore, landlords will be prevented from accessing rental units without the consent of the tenant, except when health and safety or damage to the unit are concerned.

Robinson added that the province is granting landlords the power to regulate the use of multi-purpose and amenity spaces to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

To further support renters and landlords, the Residential Tenancy Branch will implement several additional actions, including adjourning and rescheduling hearings in situations where people need additional time to prepare and extending timelines for filing applications for dispute resolution.

Landlord will be able to restrict the use of common areas, such as laundry rooms, by tenants or guests, as well.



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