Updates for Owners and Tenants:
Rent Freezes, Evictions and End of Tenancy
With the State of Emergency declared by the provincial government, and businesses all over the country being forced to close doors amid the coronavirus outbreak, renters and tenants alike have questions on what this means for them. The provincial government has released a few updates to help ease the strain during this already difficult time for everyone.
As officially announced by the premier, a Rent Freeze will be implemented formally effective as of April 1st. What does this mean? A few things. Any rent increases served in the last month are not effective, as the tenant is to continue to pay their current rent with no increase until the Providential State of Emergency is lifted. Additionally, Landlords cannot give notice of a rent increase effective after the crisis has ended until the end of the State of Emergency.
Tenants are to continue to make rent, as this is a rent freeze that is to keep the amount they pay where it is now, not to pause paying altogether.
At this time, evictions have been completely halted during the crisis, as everyone should be self-isolating and in quarantine. Thus, if a tenant does not make rent by the first day of the month, the 10-day notice should not be issued by the landlord, as it would have no effect. However, tenants are still expected to pay rent if they can, and if they can’t, the landlord should help direct them to the financial aid through the federal or provincial programs. Keeping communication with your tenants, even in the event of missing the April 1st payment, is incredibly important.
If it becomes necessary, a landlord and tenant should try to come up with a Payment Agreement that can allow for a deferral of parts or all of their rent during this difficult time. Exceptions to the halted evictions are in situations where a tenant has put other renters or the landlord in danger; in this case, the Residential Tenancy Branch is still taking applications. Keeping everyone safe is always a priority, even while evictions have been stopped. More information/updates on this can be found on the provincial website.
End of Tenancy
Just like with evictions, while the State of Emergency is in effect, landlords are prohibited from serving any end of tenancy notices. As such, if a landlord attempts to serve a Notice to End Tenancy during this order, an Order of Possession will not be issued by an arbitrator. However, if a notice was served before March 30th, 2020, the landlord can still apply for the Order of Possession and be awarded it by an Arbitrator. However, it is prohibited to attempt to enforce an Order of Possession through a Writ of Possession and enforcing an existing Writ of Possession.
More updates were made by the Residential Tenancy Branch, such as making it easier to apply for fee waivers, encouraging settlements, and extending the timeline for filing dispute resolution applications.
The situation with the coronavirus is changing daily, and updates come frequently. It’s suggested you continue to check for updates while we try to find our way through the global pandemic day by day.