Vancouver Tenants Union calling on B.C. government to reinstate ban on evictions

A rental sign hangs on the side of an apartment building in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

The Vancouver Tenants Union (VTU) is asking provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, to push the B.C. government for an immediate reinstatement of the ban on evictions.

The province lifted the ban on Sept. 1. The measure was put into place in March as part of a group of changes targeted at supporting renters.

Read more: B.C. eviction ban to end Sept. 1, tenants have until July 2021 to pay unpaid rent

“With the health orders now in place indicating that social gatherings are unsafe, you have to wonder how safe it is to lose your home,” VTU spokesperson Mazdak Gharibnavaz said.

“Renters’ homes are their first line of defense when it comes to preventing sickness. Dr. Henry must be asked if she believes it is currently safe for renters to lose their homes, and if it’s not, will she commit to advocating to the provincial government for an immediate reinstatement of the eviction ban.”

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The ban was in place to protect renters who could not pay rent due to impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. The province has banned rent increases until July 2021.

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The government has implemented a repayment framework to ensure renters have a reasonable timeframe to pay back any rent they owe if they were short on rent payments during the pandemic. Landlords have to give tenants until July 2021 to repay any outstanding rent, as long as monthly installments are paid.

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According to the tenant’s rights organization, around 15 per cent of rental households (approximately 90,000 households across B.C.) have not paid full rent during the pandemic.

“Many of these households have been evicted or are at high risk of eviction due to the rent hikes that have been enforced by the government under its sanctioned repayment plan,” the VTU release reads.

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“The extension of rent freeze demonstrated that the B.C. government is capable of taking immediate action to protect renters, and it should do so by extending the eviction ban as well. Evictions inherently prevent sheltering-in-place and increase the indoor contacts that people will have as they attempt to find new, often temporary shelter.”

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