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B.C. announces eviction moratorium for renters during COVID-19 crisis

The Premier urged that only those that need the rent subsidy apply for it
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Premier John Horgan. Photo: Province of British Columbia/Flickr

By Colin Dacre

The B.C. Government is bringing in a moratorium on the eviction of renters during the coronavirus pandemic, in addition to a $500 renters supplement for landlords.

Premier John Horgan and MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert made the announcement Wednesday afternoon. 

“The stress is off the charts right now. We need to give people security and safety,” said Herbert.

BC Housing will be delivering the $500 a month supplement paid directly to landlords who have a renter unable to pay rent.

“Those rent cheques are critical to your families as well,” Horgan said, addressing landlords. 

The Premier urged that only those that need the rent subsidy apply for it, saying: “If you can pay your rent, you should pay your rent."

Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson confirmed that the funds are intended to help low- and middle-income renters who have seen a "significant reduction" in income directly related to the spread of COVID-19, such as reduced hours or layoffs.

Robinson added that the province is granting landlords with the power to shut down the use of multi-purpose and amenity spaces and implement social-distancing measures in buildings. Existing eviction orders with B.C.'s Residential Tenancy Branch have been halted. Those before the courts will remain up to the courts.

With few exceptions, landlords will also be prevented from entering tenants' homes.

The moratorium on evictions will have some exceptions, including when landlords need to "protect health and safety or to prevent undue damage to the property." 

The province has also put in place a rent freeze.

“This is not the time to seek rent increases,” Horgan said. 

The moratorium will remain in place while B.C. remains under a provincial state of emergency.

With files from Business in Vancouver

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