In March 2020, the province unveiled its rental supplement program as thousands of renters worried about paying their monthly bills due to COVID-19’s strain on the economy. The fund, which provides $300 to $500 is in addition to the $1,000 B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers. (Pixabay photo)

LandlordBC calls for province to increase COVID-19 rent supplement

Many renters are paying more than 30 per cent of their income on rent, making $300-$500 too low, association says

A group representing landlords in B.C. is calling on the province to increase its COVID-19 rental supplement, as well as loosen the program’s eligibility requirements, which they say is leaving many renters behind.

In March, the province unveiled its rental supplement program as thousands of renters worried about paying their monthly bills due to COVID-19’s strain on the economy. The fund, which provides $300 to $500 is in addition to the $1,000 B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers.

To be eligible, renters must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Be receiving or be eligible for Employment Insurance, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit or experiencing a 25 per cent reduction in monthly employment income as a result of COVID-19.
  • Have a 2019 household income of less than $74,150 for those with no dependents and $113,040 for those with dependents.
  • Be paying more than 30 per cent of current (reduced) gross monthly income towards rent.

But LandlordBC argues that the current amount of the supplement doesn’t meet the high rental costs in most major cities in the province. Instead, the association wants to see the benefit increase to $750 per month for renters with no dependents, and $1,000 per month for those with dependents.

“The current benefit amount is inadequate for a vast majority of renters relative to the monthly rent they are responsible for and, furthermore, the selection criteria is in our view leaving many renters behind,” the association said in a news release on Tuesday (April 28).

“The good news is that there’s time to fix this for May 1 when we are predicting a significant spike in the number of renters unable to pay their rent.”

Landlord BC also wants provincial officials to remove the income requirements and to extend this enhanced benefit through August 2020.

According to the Canadian Rental Housing Index, a significant proportion of renters are spending 30 per cent to 50 per cent of their household income on rent and utilities, especially in major urban centres. In Vancouver, 44 per cent of renter households are spending 30 per cent of their income on rent and utilities, and 23 per cent are spending more than 50 per cent of their income on housing.

The B.C. government has also placed a moratorium on evictions during the pandemic, unless issues of safety are involved.

In an emailed statement, the province said officials are continuing to monitor the impacts from COVID-19, including how long the pandemic lasts.

“People are encouraged to apply for all of the programs they’re eligible for,” the statement reads.

Had the federal government launched a rent supplement program, Landlord BC continued, “the rental housing ecosystem would have largely continued functioning normally.”

The Trudeau government has left renter issues to the individual provinces, instead focusing on wider-reaching emergency funds.

READ MORE: Businesses hard-hit by COVID-19 to get 75% in rent cost relief


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC governmentCoronavirusRentals

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

Just Posted

Terrace Fire Department gets new rescue truck

$500,000 donation from LNG Canada went toward new truck, with remainder of funds coming from City

The Skeena River Métis Community Association looking to boost cultural awareness

The association is asking families to self-identify as Métis to access federal education funding

Survivors of abuse at Indian day schools could use help accessing compensation, advocate says

Class-action against federal government now settled but application form to claim funds is rigorous

Canucks ride momentum into NHL playoff series against defending Stanley Cup champs

PREVIEW: Vancouver opens against St. Louis on Wednesday

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

One dead as fish boat sinks off southern Vancouver Island

Shawnigan Lake-registered Arctic Fox II went down off Cape Flattery, west of Victoria

Landlord takes front door, windows after single B.C. mom late with rent

Maple Ridge mom gets help from community generosity and government

42 more people test positive for COVID-19 in B.C.

The province has recorded no new deaths in recent days

Joe Biden selects California Sen. Kamala Harris as running mate

Harris and Biden plan to deliver remarks Wednesday in Wilmington

Lawsuit launched after Florida child handcuffed, booked and briefly jailed

Suit alleges “deliberate indifference” to what should have been handled as a behavioural issue

Russia approves vaccine, Putin hopes to begin mass production

Critic calls decision to proceed without thorough testing ‘dangerous and grossly immoral’

Most Read