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B.C. government vows to protect renters facing eviction due to coronavirus

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The B.C. government says British Columbians should not be evicted from their homes in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“I would say in principal we should be not be evicting people at this time,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said.

This comes after multiple people told Global News they have received eviction notices due to COVID-19.

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Kirsten Meers says she received an eviction notice on Thursday from her landlord at her West End Vancouver apartment. She has been in the apartment for five years and because of that has been locked into a lower than market rent.

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The lease says she cannot have guests for three days in a row but her boyfriend has been self-isolating with her in the apartment amidst concerns over COVID-19.

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Meers says her boyfriend’s parents on Vancouver Island and his roommates are being quarantined.

“I’m a good tenant, I pay my rent, it’s shocking, it’s scary,” Meers said.

The province’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing says the expectation is that landlords and realtors be sensitive to the needs of a tenant who may be in isolation or quarantine and not enter without their consent.

The Residential Tenancy Branch is looking at potential additional protections for tenants. BC Housing put a moratorium on evictions for social and affordable housing.

READ MORE: BC Housing bans evictions as province works to help renters, homeowners amid coronavirus

The Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS) is concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable citizens, and on all renters in the province.

Renters make up over 35 per cent of the households in the City of Vancouver, a third of whom spend more than 30 per cnt of their income on rent, and this is replicated in most areas of the province.

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“We would like to see and help government facilitate a complete moratorium on all evictions effective immediately, much like the action taken in Ontario and Quebec and consistent with the renter support the Minister of Finance referenced in Monday’s press conference,” CLAS executive director said.

CLAS says the ongoing employment instability and layoffs occurring as a result of COVID-19 orders and voluntary measures are leaving many renters in British Columbia at high risk of losing their housing due to financial hardship.

“We believe that a key component of this would be to ensure renters are free to self-isolate or quarantine without the threat of losing their homes,” CLAS lawyer Danielle Sabelli said.

“If renters are not able to do this, they would be compelled to seek alternative housing or risk homelessness. Moving could necessitate significant contact with others, such as using public transit, viewing rental units, hiring movers, etc., which should be avoided at this time.”