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

Delta council approves plan to reopen city facilities

Next phase of plan includes outdoor pools, summer day camps, outdoor fitness programs

Surrey student earns TD Community Leadership scholarship

Harjot Bal recognized for his One Blood For Life Foundation

‘Pods’ set up at Surrey homeless centre

Temporary shelter set up in April to help stop the spread of COVID-19

Suspect sought in alleged indecent act in South Surrey

Police say incident occurred near 13 Avenue and 131 Street

New Serpentine rail bridge completed in Cloverdale-Sullivan

$3 million crossing replacement marks first of 13 flood-mitigation projects

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Importance of accurate, ethical reporting more critical than ever

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

IHIT names homicide victim found in the Fraser Canyon this week

Police asking for tips into the suspicious death of 29-year-old Alicia Berg

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

Most Read