BC bans evictions, freezes rent in wake of COVID-19

The B.C. Government is issuing rental relief funding directly to landlords, halting evictions and freezing rent increases across the province in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

BC Housing said it is working with the province, the federal government, municipalities, health authorities, and "partners across the housing spectrum" to develop solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We are a generation behind, we know there are people who have been exposed", she said.

One issue that was not addressed in the weekend announcement was the temporary cold weather shelters, which are slated to close at the end of the month.

"Many students are ineligible for EI, finding it hard to get summer jobs + full-time jobs for new grads during COVID ... we need to make sure students, both domestic and global, are able to access the financial support", the AMS wrote.

"While these students may be able to access benefits from both the federal and the provincial governments in the coming months, this will not come quickly enough to help them make their rent payments for April 1".

"We don't want people to think that they may lose that home as a result of the pandemic", Horgan said at a news conference.

"The stress is off the charts right now".

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

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.

"Small groups, even two or three, can sometimes be that transmission point", Henry said in her daily virus briefing. It is about our neighbours.

The government-ordered closure of businesses, including bars, restaurants and other service industry employers, has left many workers without money to pay their rent.

David Hutniak, CEO of LandlordBC, says the moratorium on evictions opens up a huge risk for rental providers.

Horgan also encouraged banks and financial institutions to help people who are having trouble paying their mortgages. "No one's compelling them to do that".

Under the plan, landlords are also prevented from entering rental units without the consent of a tenant, unless there is a need to protect someone's health and safety or to prevent damage to a unit.

The new measures announced Wednesday also include provisions for landlords to restrict tenant and guest access to common areas to protect against COVID-19 transmission.

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