Premier John Horgan announced Wednesday that the B.C. government will be offering $500 per month to help renters dealing with a loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We know that a lot of students' winter term jobs are coming to an end and they're applying for summer jobs not knowing whether or not those are still going to be around", she said.
As people adjust to life under the COVID-19 pandemic, many are looking for ways to maintain a sense of normalcy while observing the physical distancing required to ward off the virus.
Today's measures have been put in place to help renters with low to moderate incomes who are facing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19, but do not qualify for existing rental assistance programs.
"This is not the time to seek rent increases", Horgan said. The funding will be paid directly to landlords on renter's behalf.
The Province is implementing a number of additional measures to keep people housed and protect their health.
"We are doing everything we can to make sure that if (people) are sick or self-isolating, or if they have had their hours cut back or they were laid off that they would not be fearful of losing their home", Horgan said.
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.
Horgan acknowledged that $500 doesn't go a long way in B.C.'s pricey rental market, but said the money fills a gap along with the federal government's $2,000-per-month Canada Emergency Response Benefit, and the province's one-time, $1,000 B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers payment. "It's a challenging time for landlords too".
Annual rent increases are now frozen during the state of emergency and landlords are now prevented from accessing rental units without the consent of the tenant (for showings or routine maintenance), except in "exceptional cases where it is needed to protect health and safety or to prevent undue damage to the unit", the province stated in a press release.
The funding for the rental protection program will come from a $5-billion fund the B.C. government recently announced, he said. "We need to give people security".
The exception is in cases where access is urgently needed due to a health or safety concern or to prevent undue damage to the unit.
Adjourning and rescheduling hearings in situations where people need additional time to prepare and extending timelines for filing applications for dispute resolution.
The province is restricting methods that renters and landlords can use to serve notices as well to reduce the potential transmission of COVID-19 by disallowing personal service and allowing email.
Landlord will be able to restrict the use of common areas, such as laundry rooms, by tenants or guests, as well.