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B.C. extends coronavirus rental benefit, ban on evictions for unpaid rent

Click to play video 'B.C. government extends rental benefit until August' B.C. government extends rental benefit until August
The province is extending its temporary rental supplement until the end of August for people affected by COVID-19. The program - which provides $500 per month for eligible households - was set to expire at the end of this month. Nadia Stewart reports.

The B.C. government is extending its temporary rental supplement to help those affected by the coronavirus pandemic until the end of August.

The program had been set to expire at the end of June.

The province is also extending the temporary ban on rent increases and evictions for non-payment of rent.

But at the end of this month, landlords will be able to evict tenants for other issues.

Click to play video 'New concerns about B.C. rental eviction ban during pandemic' New concerns about B.C. rental eviction ban during pandemic
New concerns about B.C. rental eviction ban during pandemic

“COVID-19 has touched all aspects of our lives and our economy. While we are seeing good success at limiting the spread of COVID-19 thanks to everyone’s joint efforts, it has been a difficult time for many,” Housing Minister Selina Robinson said.

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“We’re continuing to protect renters as we also ensure landlords are receiving some income during this time.”

Anyone who has applied for rental relief will continue to be eligible through the end of August without having to reapply. Renters will receive an email asking them to confirm they plan to live at the same address through July and August. New applications will be accepted through to Aug. 31.

The rental supplement provides $500 per month for eligible households with dependents and $300 per month for eligible households with no dependents. Eligible roommates are also able to apply for the supplement.

The money is paid directly to the landlord.

READ MORE: B.C. mulls ‘transition measures’ for landlords, renters as rental supplement set to expire

Between April 9, when the supplement began, and June 15, BC Housing said it received more than 90,000 applications.

Landlord BC has called on the province to allow for evictions again. The organization has been expressing concerns over renters deciding not to pay rent solely because they don’t have to.

Tenant organizations were quick to point out that by their estimation, just 10 per cent of all rents were not being paid. The groups said that lined up with the amount of renters financially devastated because of the pandemic.

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Click to play video 'B.C. eviction ban leaves some landlords in a bind' B.C. eviction ban leaves some landlords in a bind
B.C. eviction ban leaves some landlords in a bind

Eviction notices served before the ban was enacted will come into effect once it expires, and orders that were filed with the courts will be enforceable.

Landlords wishing to have an existing notice of eviction enforced will be able to apply to begin that process July 1.

When these changes come into effect, landlords will be able to serve new notices for reasons including landlord/purchaser use — such as where a new owner has purchased a property and intends to move in — and for cause. Depending on the type of eviction, these will require a notice period of between one and four months.

One of the looming challenges will be unpaid rent once the eviction moratorium is lifted.

Click to play video 'Some tenants not getting B.C. rent assistance money' Some tenants not getting B.C. rent assistance money
Some tenants not getting B.C. rent assistance money

The province is working on a framework that will require landlords to work with tenants to repay rent over a reasonable period of time. Government has been clear that tenants who have not experienced financial difficulties are expected to continue to pay rent.

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Later this month, landlords will also be allowed to access units for activities such as repairs, maintenance and showings, following the standard notice period. The exact day for that has not yet been decided.

Landlords and tenants are expected to follow physical-distancing measures at all times and wear appropriate personal protective equipment. Landlords will continue to be able to set restrictions on shared spaces, such as limiting the number of people in elevators and laundry rooms, and in places where adequate cleaning cannot be maintained, such as gyms.