Can I be evicted if I become sick with COVID-19?

I rent a basement suite. The landlord lives upstairs. We share the laundry room and backyard. I don't have a written rental agreement.

Kyle

Kyle

Squamish, BC

First, about the rental agreement. Landlords are required to prepare a written agreement for every tenancy (see this law). If a landlord doesn’t prepare an agreement, the standard terms of every tenancy agreement apply. Those terms say the landlord may end the tenancy only for the reasons set out in the Residential Tenancy Act.

One of the reasons (set out here) is where the tenant seriously jeopardizes the health or safety of the landlord. Your landlord could claim your condition poses them a serious health risk, particularly given how you share the laundry room and backyard.

But you could counter by saying that evicting you would amount to discrimination. Under BC's human rights law, a renter can't be treated differently than others based on a protected characteristic. A physical disability is protected in this way. And BC's human rights commissioner considers COVID-19 to be a physical disability.

You can also take some comfort from this post from Landlord BC, an association of landlords and property managers province-wide. It says that landlords cannot end a tenancy if a tenant is diagnosed with COVID‐19.

All that said, it's best to discuss your concerns directly with your landlord. Describe the precautions you can take. Working together on a plan to mitigate any health risks is a great place to start.

David Kandestin

David Kandestin

People's Law School
  • This information applies to British Columbia, Canada
  • Reviewed for legal accuracy in December 2021

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