As part of the State of Emergency in BC declared as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic the provincial government brought into effect a Residential Tenancy Order on March 30, 2020. This order details changes that apply to landlords and tenants with respect to rent, evictions, and access to the rental property. We've compiled what you need to know as a landlord about these changes.
Tenants are expected to pay their rent in full and on time while the State of Emergency is in effect. If your tenants are suffering financial hardship due to COVID-19, they can apply for the BC-Temporary Rental Supplement Program. The application is available as of April 9, 2020; new applications will be accepted until August 31, 2020. Eligible applications will only be effective from the month they were received. If your tenants have already received the supplement for April, May or June, they do not need to apply again for the program extension through July and August.
Originally announced as $500 per month that will be paid directly to landlords, the program details have been updated to be $300 per month for eligible households with no dependents and $500 per month for eligible households with dependents. Your tenants must apply for these funds first; they will be asked to provide your contact information, including email address. BC Housing will then contact you to complete the landlord portion of the application process. This includes confirming the details of the tenancy as well as your mailing address and banking information.
When it comes to rent increases, any increase in the amount of rent to be paid is paused while the State of Emergency is in effect. This means that if you gave notice to your tenants of a rent increase before March 30, 2020 that was due to take effect on or after that date, the increase will not take effect until the State of Emergency is lifted; similarly, if you were to give a tenant notice of a rent increase while the Order is in effect, the increase will not be applied until the Order ends. On July 16, 2020 the government released an update that rent increases will continue to be restricted until December 2020. It is important to note that rent can be increased if it is due to additional occupants in an existing rental unit.
If you gave your tenants notice to end tenancy before March 30, 2020 it is valid and statutory timelines are in effect; however, your tenants may still dispute the notice.
If you gave your tenants notice to end tenancy on or after March 30, 2020 it is of no force or effect. You may not give a tenant notice to end tenancy for most reasons, except in exceptional circumstances, while the State of Emergency is in effect. You can end a tenancy if the tenant or a person permitted on the residential property by the tenant has:
- significantly interfered with or unreasonably disturbed another occupant or the landlord of the residential property;
- seriously jeopardized the health or safety or a lawful right or interest of the landlord or another occupant;
- put the landlord's property at significant risk;
- engaged in illegal activity that
- has caused or is likely to cause damage to the landlord's property,
- has adversely affected or is likely to adversely affect the quiet enjoyment, security, safety or physical well-being of another occupant of the residential property, or
- has jeopardized or is likely to jeopardize a lawful right or interest of another occupant or the landlord;
- caused extraordinary damage to the residential property, and it would be unreasonable, or unfair to the landlord or other occupants of the residential property, to wait for the emergency order to end.
Once the State of Emergency ends, evictions can resume, including for any outstanding rent due during the time the emergency Order is in effect.
The province announced on June 19, 2020 that it will lift the ban on evictions for reasons other than unpaid rent later this month. When the new order comes into effect, you will be able to serve new notices for reasons including landlord/purchaser use, and for cause. A notice period of between 1 - 4 months will be required. If you wish to have an existing notice of eviction enforced, you can apply to begin that process July 1, 2020.
An additional announcement was made on July 16, 2020 that the ban on evictions for non-payment of rent will be lifted ahead of September 1, 2020; renters will be expected to pay their monthly rent in full beginning in September.
The Province is putting a repayment framework in place that will apply once the ban on evictions for non-payment of rent is lifted. The framework requires the landlord to give the tenant until July 2021 to repay any outstanding rent for the period of March - August 2020, as long as monthly installments are paid. There is some flexibility for you as the landlord to adjust the terms of repayment within the framework if you have already made arrangements with your tenants during the State of Emergency, provided the minimum timeline is retained. Your tenants will not have to make their first repayment under the framework until the first rent due date following 30 days of notice of the repayment plan.
An Order of Possession will only be enforced during the State of Emergency for the same reasons listed above.
Access to a Rental Property
Beginning on March 30, 2020 and continuing for the remainder of the State of Emergency, your tenant must expressly give consent for you to enter the rental unit in addition to you providing proper notice. Exceptions are allowed for emergencies in relation to the pandemic or when necessary to protect health & safety of you, the tenant, or others.
As part of the provincial announcement on June 19, 2020, later this month landlords will be able to access units for activities such as repairs, maintenance and showing of the unit, following the standard notice period.
If there is a common area component to your rental property, as the landlord you can restrict access to or schedule the use of those areas to support public health directives; however, those restrictions cannot prevent or interfere with the access of a tenant to their rental unit.
BC Housing is encouraging landlords to talk with your tenants during this unprecedented time to negotiate or compromise and reach a solution that works for everyone involved.
Our team stays on top of the latest news related to mortgages and housing to make sure you have the information you need to make an informed decision. If you are experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19, you will need to call your lender directly to see what accommodations can be made. You can also read our full round-up of emergency announcements affecting mortgage financing.
As always, our team is ready to take your call and provide assistance for your mortgage needs. Give us a call at 250-590-6520 (toll-free 1-855-590-6520) or connect with us online.
Auxilium Mortgage Corporation is based in Victoria, BC and works with clients locally and across Canada. The Auxilium team has over 100 years of combined financial experience and access to dozens of lenders to help you meet your goals.
Originally published April 2, 2020
Updated June 19, 2020; July 20, 2020