A sign hangs in the window of a west Toronto apartment on Thursday March 19, 2020. B.C. is one of multiple provinces that has put a moratorium on evictions amid COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

‘Nothing concrete’: Tenants, landlords lack details after B.C. unveils COVID-19 rental aid

Single mom in Golden says she’s already going to the food bank after being laid off

The B.C. government’s recently-announced rental aid package has renters feeling cautiously optimistic while landlords remain skeptical.

The aid included three main points: No evictions amid COVID-19, a rent freeze and $500 per month for up to four months for people affected by the crisis. Renters will apply for the funding but it will flow directly to landlords. For their part, Premier John Horgan asked landlords to work with tenants and pass on savings from recently-announced mortgage deferrals.

READ MORE: B.C. promises up to $500 monthly in rent support amid COVID-19

In Golden, Alice Phillips, a single mom with a five-year-old daughter, said any help is welcome after she got laid off from two hospitality jobs.

“Of course it would help,” she said. “[But] it doesn’t cover the full cost of my rent.”

That cost, for Phillips, is $1,300 a month. According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., that’s pretty standard for B.C.

The CMHC found that an average studio apartment costs $1,118 a month to rent, while a one-bedroom costs $1,260, a two-bedroom costs $1,468, and a three-bedroom costs $1,691.

But for Phillips, although the money would help in future months, she would be strapped for cash if she pays April’s rent, with little money left for other necessities. She worked two jobs: as a server at a ski resort and as bartender.

“Both of them are service industry jobs and both of them I make less than minimum wage, so I rely on tips,” she said.

“Usually I use my tips to go towards rent, to go towards groceries.”

Last week, she was forced to go to the food bank instead after both the ski resort and the bar shut down, laying her off.

Neither place is paying wages while they’re shut down and Phillips only found out the ski resort she works for shut down when she saw the announcement on Facebook.

“Most of us woke up the next morning and it was like, yeah, all the resorts are shut down,” she said. “We got no warning.”

It’s left Phillips scrambling about what to do.

“It’s really stressful and it’s really hard not knowing,” Phillips said. Even though she cannot be evicted for not paying rent, she’s worried about retaliation from her landlord after the moratorium is over.

But landlords aren’t necessarily pleased either. LandlordBC said it was “pleased” with the $500 monthly payments going directly to landlords.

“We are also pleased that the government was very clear that renters have a responsibility to pay their rent,” the organization said in a press release.

But the organization was not happy the rent freeze, which it said it would comment on at a later date, nor the ban on evictions. That moratorium, it said, could have “huge unintended repercussions” on landlords and the entire industry.

As a renter, Phillips said she was frustrated to see “nothing concrete” about any of the announced assistance. The province has said that people won’t be able to apply for the $500 rent supplement, paid out through BC Housing, until early April – past the rent deadline at the start of the month.

READ MORE: $1,000 payment for COVID-19 affected workers won’t come till May: B.C. finance ministry

Other supports from the province, including a $1,000 one-time emergency payment, won’t come till May. On the federal side, the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit, a promised $2,000 monthly payment for workers negatively affected by COVID-19, won’t have an application portal up and running until April 6.

In an email to Black Press Media, the housing ministry urged landlords to encourage their tenants to apply for the rental supplement.

“Where tenants are not paying rent in full, landlords should keep a record of how much rent is owed,” the ministry said.

But the ministry did not clarify what would happen after the COVID-19 crisis abated, and if, and how fast, tenants would be required to pay back missed rent.

“There will be more challenges ahead as this unfolds and as B.C. recovers. We will be working with landlords and renters to find a fair way forward for everyone.”

READ MORE: Trudeau unveils new $2,000 per month benefit to streamline COVID-19 aid


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusRentals

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Greater Victoria thrift shop quietly closes two locations indefinitely

Society of St. Vincent de Paul shut down Sooke and Central Saanich storefronts

Four-storey Oak Bay Avenue development to have rooftop garden

Redfern 35-unit development sent to public hearing

Sooke councillor pitches another way to improve transit

Coun. Jeff Bateman wants free passes for youth on local routes

Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Greater Victoria

Thunderstorm may produce strong wind gusts, large hail and heavy rain, warns Environment Canada

Sooke couple that owned Sooke Harbour House given $4 million after lengthy court case

B.C. Supreme Court rules in favour of Frederique and Sinclair Philip

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cops for Cancer: COVID-19 can’t stop Tour de Rock

‘having the chance to come back and ride this year means everything to me’

People ‘disgusted’ by COVID-19 election call, B.C. Liberal leader says

Andrew Wilkinson speaks to municipal leaders from Victoria

Horgan blasts B.C. Greens for refusing youth overdose detention

Lack of support key to B.C. election call, NDP leader says

Most Read