B.C. approves $500 renters' supplement, freezes rents and evictions

Province announces rebate for renters, moratorium on most evictions, and freeze on rent hikes, amid pandemic

This fund is there to help those people who are in genuine distress. "It's a challenging time for landlords too".

The Province is implementing a number of additional measures to keep people housed and protect their health.

Horgan said he doesn't want people to fear losing their homes, which "should be a place of comfort and security".

Horgan also said several details, such as whether the $500 will be per rental unit or per person living there, allowing roommates to pool their rebates to cover rent, are still to be finalized. The funding will be paid directly to landlords on renter's behalf.

Horgan said the province's plan is based on all 500,000 renting households claiming the temporary rent supplement payments, but that the program can be extended if not everyone makes a claim.

Landlords are also ordered to restrict the use of common areas by tenants or guests to protect against the transmission of COVID-19.

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Premier John Horgan also announced Wednesday that B.C. will freeze rent increases and evictions until the current crisis has passed, with some exceptions to the latter.

Vancouver-West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert, the former chair of B.C.'s Rental Housing Task Force, confirmed that the Residential Tenancy Branch will continue to operate during this time. The Rental Tenancy Branch will remain open to resolve any disputes that may arise between renters and landlords.

Overall, Henry said that 64 people are now hospitalized in BC, and of those, 26 are in intensive care units.

The measures are part of the province's $5 billion COVID-19 response plan - which was announced on Monday - and follow tax and payment deferral options from governments, Crown corporations and banks meant to ease the financial burdens Canadians' may be facing. Landlords will be prevented from legally raising rents starting April 1.

Before making the announcement, Robinson also mentioned the government is taking steps to help the homeless and vulnerable populations, some of which were announced last weekend, such as a halt on evictions for non-payment of rents for tenants of BC Housing funded projects and "development of distinct protocols and identification of sites to support isolation for vulnerable people experiencing homelessness - sheltered or unsheltered - and those in private single room occupancy and social housing buildings". "With some of the most expensive rents in the country, $500 doesn't go far enough for renters in B.C. No one should have to choose between spreading the COVID-19 virus and paying rent", Leadnow senior campaigner Claire Gallagher said in a statement.

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