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Your Questions About Coronavirus and Home & Neighbours

This information applies to British Columbia, Canada
May 2020
Time to read: 
3 minutes

"My landlord sold their condo, and I was supposed to move out at the end of next month. But now, I’m self-isolating with a bad cough. I don’t think it’s responsible for me to move right now. I’m not sure who I can even get to help me move. I’m in a real bind here."

– Priya, Richmond

"My landlord sold their condo, and I was supposed to move out at the end of next month. But now, I’m self-isolating with a bad cough. I don’t think it’s responsible for me to move right now. I’m not sure who I can even get to help me move. I’m in a real bind here."

– Priya, Richmond

I won’t be able to make my next rent. Now what?

There is relief available. The BC government has introduced a temporary rental supplement program. Renters who have lost income as a result of the coronavirus pandemic can get help with rent for April, May and June. The program gives $300 per month for households with no dependents, and $500 per month for households with dependents. The payments are made directly to the landlord. Renters can apply for the rental supplement through the BC Housing website. To speak with someone about the program, call 1-877-757-2577 (toll-free).

Meanwhile, tenants in subsidized or affordable housing can apply through BC Housing for a short-term adjustment to their monthly benefit.

The government has also frozen rent increases. Landlords can still notify you of a rent increase, but it can only come into effect after the crisis is over. And most evictions are not allowed during the state of emergency.  

It’s important to understand that, as a renter, you still have to pay rent. Once the pandemic is over, rent increases are allowed. And if you haven’t paid rent during the pandemic, you can face eviction once it’s over. So, make sure to communicate with your landlord. Discuss your current situation and consider putting a plan in place for deferred rental payments so your expectations are aligned going forward.

Can I still get evicted?

Not likely. BC Housing issued a temporary moratorium on evictions for those living in subsidized or affordable housing. For other housing types (like market rentals), new measures include a halt on evictions. There are narrow exceptions — landlords can still apply for an eviction hearing in cases where it may be needed to protect health and safety or to prevent undue damage to the property. 

Once you’re up to speed on your rights (make sure to review those links above, and this helpful Q&A), best to communicate swiftly and calmly with your landlord through this difficult time

Do I have to tell my landlord if I’ve tested positive for COVID-19?

No, you don’t. In fact, you don’t have to disclose any medical information to your landlord. And they can’t threaten to end your tenancy if you don’t tell them these things. You’re protected by BC privacy legislation. Even if you do tell your landlord about your health status, they’re obliged to keep the information confidential.

If your landlord pressures you on this, remind them that you have rights under privacy legislation. And you can complain to our provincial privacy commissioner if you feel your landlord has crossed the line when it comes to respecting your privacy.

What if I can’t make my mortgage payments?

If you have a mortgage, there are steps you can take if you’re anticipating payment difficulties. You can also call your bank or credit union — many are offering payment deferrals. (But interest may still accrue on the balance; make sure you ask about that!)

If you’re bracing for extreme turbulence ahead, check out our step-by-step guide on your rights and options if you’re having difficulty paying your mortgage.

What are we doing for the most vulnerable members in our community?

The province has expanded bc211, a helpline that provides information about community, government and social services. Anyone in the province can now call 211 to learn where they can find help — and how they can offer help. For example, 211 is matching seniors with community volunteers who can help with groceries and staying connected.

For vulnerable segments of the population, authorities are relaxing some of the rules. For example, the province has introduced new clinical guidance to help reduce the risks to people who use substances. The guidance recommends that health care providers prescribe safe alternatives to the illegal drug supply.

And there are additional cash supplements for those on disability or income assistance, or the senior’s supplement. An extra $300 is automatically being added to their cheques in April, May, and June. Those who get a free bus pass or compass card will get $52 on their cheques. Also, if you apply for EI or emergency benefits at this time, income tax won’t be clawed back.

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