By Michelle McElroy
Rent Smart BC – April 2020
This update is coming at a difficult time in our world history. If you have received an e-mail from me lately it finishes with, “We are all in this together, as we are standing apart”. Which is true of the world, but also here at Rent Smart Education and Support Society. We know that this is a very difficult time for everyone, and we want you to know that we are here, if you are currently teaching courses or not.
I also wanted to take a moment to thank all of you who don’t get the luxury of working from home. Those of you whose jobs are in the trenches: health care workers, shelter workers, food banks, nurses, community professionals who work with the elderly, homeless or other vulnerable populations. We know that if you hadn’t risked your safety, and gone to work everyday to help others, this pandemic would have been worse than it is right now here in BC. You are the heroes that keep others safe, and we want to acknowledge you and salute you!
Changes to the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA), April 2020
At the time of this writing, these are the current changes to the RTA during the state of emergency. This is as of April 13, 2020, but the government has stated there will be more changes coming. This is the list of changes that were passed and are now law until the emergency is over:
- Moratorium on evictions. There are to be no evictions at this time. In extreme cases, a landlord can make an application for dispute resolution through the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB). The RTB can grant a landlord to enforce a notice of eviction also called a Writ of Possession, however the arbitrator can also not allow the landlord to take possession until after the pandemic is over.
- Moratorium on rent increases. Rent increases can be given to tenants, but they will not take effect until the emergency is over.
- A landlord is unable to enter a tenant’s property unless the tenant gives permission at this time. The only exception to this is where it is needed to protect health and safety of the other tenants or to prevent undue damage to the unit.
- Any type of notice may now be served through e-mail.
- Landlords can restrict the use of common space as long as they do not block a tenant’s access to their home.
- Notice to End Tenancy: If a notice to end tenancy was given by the landlord on or after March 30, it is no longer enforceable. If the notice was given by the landlord before March 30, the tenant only had 10 days to dispute the notice, so the tenancy will end. HOWEVER, the government has stated that there is leniency around service dates, so a tenant could speak to their landlord and try to make an application to the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB). If notice was given by the tenant before March 30, it is valid and tenancy will need to end by the end of April.
The complete list of changes can be found here.
The legal document containing the changes to the RTA during the state of emergency, Ministerial Order # M089, can be found here.
Please feel free to follow the Rent Smart Education Support Society’s COVID-19 Resources webpage or our social media pages. We are trying to keep our site up to date with the latest news on tenancy information.
BC- Temporary Rental Supplement
As of March 9, 2020. Tenants who have been affected by COVID-19 can now apply for the BC -Temporary Rental Supplement (BC-TRS) Program! This program offers $500 a month for families and $300 per household without children, unless the household members are not in a relationship, such as renters. The supplement is for 3 months: April, May and June. If a tenant applies in April, they will receive all three months! There are criteria that a tenant must meet. Please read more.
Save the Date
Our next Collaborate Call will be May 26th at 2:00.
We will be giving an update on delivering RentSmart programs virtually. There have been a few pilot programs happening across the country and here in BC. We want to share the process of the pilots, what we have learned so far and discuss how all Educators can provide this program.
Some good news
I just wanted to leave you with a few thoughts and links to things that might make you smile and give a sense of hope.
- B.C. secures motel, hotel rooms for COVID-19 shelter space. Hotels across BC started to donate their empty rooms to people who need them most. This allowed the government to find 23 different sites for a total of 900 beds that could be used for this purpose! Some of these hotels will be reserved for people who have COVID-19 and need a place to self-isolate while they recover. “Other spaces are for patients being discharged from hospitals who do not have COVID-19 and who do not need emergency care, but still require ongoing health care, freeing up much-needed beds in hospitals,” the ministry said in a statement on April 7. Read more.
- “Chop Sticks to Heroes” and “Feed the Frontline” Go Fund Me page. This initiative started in Vancouver. The program called Chop Sticks for Heroes was created for local restaurants to make meals for front line workers. Since the start, they have given away 3000 meals a week. The incredible thing is that it did not stop there. One of the nurses at Vancouver General Hospital started a program. Shend her colleagues decided that because the staff who received these delicious meals were still working, they would gather food and donate it back to the local food banks. Again, the initiative did not stop there. The organizers of the initiative started a Go Fund Me page as they did not want restaurants to lose all of their money and then end up going bankrupt from helping others. Just the Vancouver Go Fund Me page has raised $75,546 since March 26th. Now there are programs like this across many parts of Canada. To listen to the stories on Global News go to Story 1 and Story 2.
- The Victoria School district is providing 10,000 meals per week to students who are in need. Read More.
- Hearts and support letters, they are every where to show support to ALL essential workers and to indicate we are all in this together! Here is a letter in Victoria News online version showing the support on the Island.
- In Richmond: A tribute song to Frontline Workers. This is a tribute to many of you.
- Brain 1st Program: Support for Children. This is a support program for children, teachers and parents that is helping children with isolation and anxiety. It was designed by three people in BC. It is intended to bring a state of normalcy at these difficult times and works on the mental and physical health of children. It helps children to de-stress and improves brain development. To learn more about this program and how it helps with children’s daily routine click here. To go directly to Brain 1st click here.
- It’s been 40 years since Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope. We can all use a bit of hope, and courage right now. As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated, “it is hard to believe it’s been 40 years. But still to this day, Terry’s courage, optimism, and determination are an example for all of us. And to those who continue to carry his message of hope forward: Thank you,” Click here to read the full story.
From Abbotsford Sanitation workers being super heroes, the Easter bunny being immune to the virus and popping up all over the province to all of the people yelling and playing music from their doors at 7:00 pm there is lots of good news out there. Sometimes we need to stop listening to the alarming news about COVID-19 and look for things that make us smile, give us support and give us hope. During this turbulent, difficult, unknown time try to focus on the positive actions being done in BC and around the world. There are many people, unknown heroes, trying to boost people’s spirits and emotions during this difficult time.
This last T-rex video is not from BC, but just had to share. I hope it makes you smile and adds some happiness to your heart!
From all of us at Rent Smart Education and Support Society we hope you stay safe and healthy not just for yourself, but for your family, friends and community!