The Province has laid out the details of a repayment framework to be put in place later this summer, helping renters and landlords to transition and tenants in arrears to maintain their housing when the ban on evictions for non-payment of rent is lifted ahead of Sept. 1, 2020.
“We know that COVID-19 has touched all aspects of our lives and our economy. As we carefully move forward with restarting the economy, we are taking the same measured approach to tenancy rules and giving people advance notice so they can plan,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “These changes will build on the extension of our Temporary Rent Supplement (TRS) program and give renters until next summer to gradually pay back any unpaid rent to help them maintain their housing, while also continuing the ban on rent increases until December.”
To ensure renters have a reasonable timeframe to pay back any rent they owe from the emergency, the Province is putting in place a repayment framework. The framework will apply once the ban on issuing evictions for non-payment of rent is lifted. It requires the landlord to give the tenant until July 2021 to repay any outstanding rent, as long as monthly instalments are paid.
The Province plans to lift the ban on issuing evictions for non-payment of rent ahead of Sept. 1, meaning renters will need to pay their monthly rent in full beginning in September. However, the repayment framework is designed so renters will not have to make their first payment until the first rent due date following 30 days of notice from the date of the repayment plan. This will be Oct. 1 for most renters, assuming their landlord provides them with a repayment plan before the end of August.
For example, a renter owing $2,000 in unpaid rent will receive a repayment framework that sets out:
- the total amount of rent still owed ($2,000);
- the amount the renter is expected to pay each month, with the total owing split into instalments (e.g., $200 each month from October 2020 to July 2021);
- the date of the first payment is due (Oct. 1, 2020).
Recognizing that many renters and landlords worked together to make arrangements during this crisis, the framework will also leave some flexibility for landlords to work with renters to further adjust the payment amounts. For example, allowing lower payments in the beginning of the agreement and gradually increasing the payment amounts over time or extending the duration of the repayment process past July 2021.
Two other emergency measures related to rentals will also be extended. In the early stages of the pandemic response, landlords were temporarily prohibited from charging rent increases as part of government’s efforts to help people financially impacted by COVID-19. These rent increases will continue to be restricted until December 2020. In addition, in order to protect the health of building residents, landlords will continue to have the ability to restrict access to common spaces when required for COVID-19 related health reasons.
- During the state of emergency, 97% of renters continued to pay rent – with 85% of renters paying in full and another 12% making partial payments.
- As of July 9, nearly 85,000 British Columbians are benefitting from the TRS. Eligible renters can continue to apply for support through the end of August.
- The TRS program provides $500 per month for eligible households with dependents and $300 per month for eligible households with no dependents.
- Based on eligible applications to date, the TRS program is expected to provide more than $150 million in financial support for renters and landlords between April and August.
Information about changes to B.C.’s tenancy laws during COVID-19 can be found here: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/housing-tenancy/residential-tenancies/covid-19
John Horgan provides a media update