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

Greater Victoria writer releases first novel inspired by U.S. school shootings

Dear Mr. President tells thought provoking story of victims left behind

Saanich mayor joins fight to protect local wildlife from rat poisoning after second owl dies

Mayor Fred Haynes to meet with provincial, federal pest control industry representatives

Sidney fire responds to fewer but more severe calls during pandemic

Rise in severity linked to changes in routine during COVID-19 pandemic

Saanich police see spike in excessive speeding compared to previous years

Nearly 100 excessive speeders caught since January 2020

Colwood branch drop-off to continue throughout summer

COVID-19 safety measures remain in place

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of the world of summer sports

In a typical year, there are plenty of summer sporting events and tournaments held across Canada

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

VIDEO: NASA astronauts blast off into space on SpaceX rocket

Marks NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

PHOTOS: U.S. cities brace for increasing unrest over police killing of George Floyd

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has fully mobilized the state’s National Guard

$200,000 Maybach impounded after ‘L’ driver caught excessively speeding in Vancouver

Meanwhile, the supervisor sat in the passenger seat, police said

Most Read