UPDATE: Extension of BC's State of Emergency – What it means for REALTORS®
This post, originally titled "Government Announcement on Renters and Landlords - What it Means for Realtors", was updated on May 28, 2020 following the two-week extension of BC's State of Emergency.
On May 27, 2020, Premier John Horgan extended BC's state of emergency until June 9, 2020. This means that the Residential Tenancy Order (RTO), which expires only when the state of emergency is lifted, has also been extended.
The Residential Tenancy Order bans evictions and provides other protections for renters - see below for more information. To avoid a situation where there are a lot of evictions, the provincial government intends to have a transition plan in place before the state of emergency ends. They are well aware of the need for real estate transactions to complete and for buyers to be able to occupy their new homes. BCREA will provide more information as the transition plan develops.
Here is an overview of the order:
Eviction moratorium - Landlords can no longer give a tenant a notice to end the tenancy except in situations where people or the rental unit are at significant risk. However, if a landlord gave a tenant a notice to end the tenancy before March 30, then the notice remains in effect, subject to the dispute resolution process, and an order of possession can still be granted.
This may be complicated in cases where a tenant is under mandatory quarantine, self-isolation or a medical facility. In those cases, it's advisable to seek legal advice.
Landlord's right to enter rental unit - A landlord can enter a rental unit for repairs or showings, as long as the tenant consents. Follow the standard procedure of requesting access at least 24 hours in advance, noting the proposed date and time - and be sure to wait for the tenant's consent. Landlords can enter rental units without tenant consent if there is an emergency in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic and the entry is necessary to protect health, safety or welfare of the landlord, the tenant or other occupants.
Rent freeze - Rent increases set to occur while this order is in effect, including previously announced rent increases set to take effect from March 30 onwards, do not take effect until after the state of emergency has ended. Exceptions for rent increases include if there one or more occupants are added and the tenancy agreement specifies how the rent varies with the number of occupants.
Restricting access to common areas - Landlords can reasonably restrict access to common areas to prevent the spread of COVID-19
More information is available on the Residential Tenancy Branch website.
Rental supplement on the way
Another significant government program to support renters and landlords is the BC-Temporary Rental Supplement Program (BC-TRS). Tenants who have lost or reduced income because of COVID-19 will be eligible to apply for the program through the BC Housing website.
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