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

(BC Hydro outage map)
UPDATE: Power restored to more than 3,000 Sooke residents

Two polling stations impacted by outage

The mottled sky, the lights coming on at water’s edge and in Victoria West, and the reflections on the building windows make for a scenic sunset photo in Victoria’s Selkirk neighbourhood. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Sunset on the Selkirk in Victoria

Send your photos to editor@vicnews.com for a chance to see them in the paper

Christopher Mauro, right, assistant manager of the Sidney Save-On-Foods, and Nick Luney, youth initiatives director for the Victoria Pride Society, celebrate the success of a pandemic fundraiser for the local Pride Society. (Courtesy Save-On Foods)
Grocery managers across the Island pull together for Queer youth

With Victoria Pride Parade and Festival cancelled, Save-On-Foods staff found a way to raise funds

Shay Baker, 17, hasn’t been seen or heard from since Oct. 21 and is wanted on outstanding warrants. (Victoria Police Department)
Victoria police searching for high-risk missing youth

Shay Baker, 17, is wanted on outstanding warrants

Plastic Ocean by Oak Bay resident Gabriela Hirt is in the Federation of Canadian Artist’s “Crisis” exhibition on now in Vancouver. (Gabriela Hirt/cropped to fit)
Oak Bay artist wins juried show in Vancouver

Pair of Oak Bay artists part of ‘Crisis’ exhibition

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

The possibility of the Canadian Premier League expanding to the Fraser Valley has been floated online. (Facebook photo)
Canadian Premier League possibly eyeing Fraser Valley expansion

Soccer league looking to add ninth team to the mix, B.C. markets potentially rumoured

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

Most Read