Tenant Support and Resources
Paying Rent during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Provincial legislation requires that tenants pay rent in full and on time during the pandemic; however, there are a number of support options available to tenants facing financial difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 crisis including the ones listed below:
For the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, access to the Rent Bank program will be enhanced for tenants at risk of eviction due to loss of income and inability to pay rent.
Cited enhancements to the program include:
- Interim eligibility criteria to allow tenants at risk of evictions due to loss of income and inability to pay rent to access loans
- Enhanced loan capacity (a higher number of loans) to support more residents to access the program
- Interim loan recovery terms to allow for flexibility for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For more information on the New Westminster Rent Bank Program and to apply, please visit the Lower Mainland Purpose Society website or call 604-526-2522.
- Seniors Services Society Seniors Loan Program can offer up to $1,000 to seniors aged 60 and older who are at risk of eviction due to a temporary shortage of funds, or financial crisis. Funding may also be available for a utility payment or damage deposit, if the person is homeless or their current housing is unsafe or suitable. Funding is provided in the form of short-term interest free loans. For more eligibility and other information, please visit the Seniors Services Society website.
- The B.C. Temporary Rent Supplement (BC-TRS); the Temporary Rent Supplement gives temporary support towards rent payments for renters impacted by COVID-19. The BC-TRS provides up to $300/month ($500/month for families with dependents) for eligible tenants for April, May and June 2020. This supplement will be paid directly to landlords and the temporary supplement does not need to be paid back. Tenants are not eligible if their rent is subsidized by any other government program such as Shelter Aid For Elderly Renters (SAFER) or the Rental Assistance Program (RAP), Income Assistance, or Disability Assistance. You can apply for the BC-TRS here.
- The B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers; the B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers will provide a tax-free, one time $1,000 payment for B.C. residents whose ability to work has been affected due to COVID-19. Applications can be made online or over the phone at 1-855-955-3545.
- Federal government financial supports include benefits for individuals and families who are facing a loss of income due to the pandemic as well as other financial supports for low and modest income earners. Refer to the Federal Government website for latest information on all supports from the federal government, including:
- The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB); the Canadian Government will provide a taxable benefit of $2,000 every 4 weeks for up to 16 weeks to eligible workers who have lost their income due to COVID-19. An online questionnaire will help direct you to the service option that best fits your situation (i.e., eligibility for Employment Insurance benefits or not). Apply for the CERB.
Amendments to the Residential Tenancy Act during COVID
The Residential Tenancy Act has been amended to support tenants and landlords during the provincial State of Emergency and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The amendments are in effect for the duration of the state of emergency. These include:
- Eviction Moratorium:
- A landlord’s ability to end a tenancy if a tenant does not pay the rent in full and on time is temporarily suspended during the state of emergency. This means that a landlord cannot issue a new notice to end tenancy as of March 30, 2020 until after the state of emergency, except in exceptional circumstances to protect health and safety; or to prevent undue damage to the property.
- An existing notice to end tenancy given before March 30, 2020 is still valid, but may not be enforced until after the state of emergency except in extreme cases where there are safety concerns.
- Freeze on rent increases:
- New annual rent increases are frozen during the state of emergency.
- Common spaces and entering homes to prevent COVID-19 spread:
- A landlord is not allowed to access a rental unit without the tenant’s consent, except in extreme cases of health and safety, or to prevent property damage.
- A landlord is allowed to restrict common areas used by tenants and guests, renters and landlords may now use e-mail to serve documents.
Tenancy during the COVID-19 Recovery Period
The amendments to the Residential Tenancy Act during the COVID-19 pandemic are in effect during the provincial state of emergency. Once information is available from the Province of British Columbia about the Residential Tenancy Act during the recovery period, it will be included here.