As you know LandlordBC had been aggressively advocating for the reopening of our sector for several weeks. We are confident that these advocacy efforts were instrumental in today’s announcement from the BC Government. The Housing Ministry had been seeking our input and today laid out a 2-phased approach for our sector. It is anticipated that a new COVID Act to replace the State of Emergency will be enacted by mid-July 2020. We are pleased that the Province recognized the importance of ensuring our sector was included in its “re-start” plans, as we had asked. Needless to say, we continue to live in unprecedented times.
Phase 1 will open up our ability to administer notice to end tenancies under the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) with the exception of non-payment of rent scenarios. We will transition to Phase 2 when the anticipated COVID Act is enacted, at which time we anticipate that the Province will be mandating that tenants and landlords enter into rent repayment agreements for unpaid rent incurred during the COVID-19 period (March 17 to June 30, 2020). The repayment plans will run through June 2021. Tenants who refuse to enter a repayment plan agreement or default during the repayment period will be subject to a Notice to End Tenancy and eviction. The freeze on rent increases is an issue that we continue to pursue. We anticipate that it will be removed effective September 1, 2020 however, this has not been confirmed by the Minister. LandlordBC would also note that regulations specific to the proposed Additional Rent Increase (ARI) process announced September 2018 as part of the Rental Housing Task Force, continues to be refined with an anticipated September 2020 implementation date.
When Ministerial Order M089 was originally introduced it left landlords that had already received an Order of Possession in the difficult position of not being able to enforce their orders through the courts. While the use of bailiffs to remove tenants is not a common practice, it is unfortunately a necessity when a tenant refuses to vacate. As of July 1st, landlords will be able to take their Orders to the courts and those landlords that may already have a Writ of Possession can have them enforced as soon as the Emergency Order of Possession is in effect.
Additionally, landlords will be able to serve a proper Notice of Entry and without requiring a tenant’s consent. This is an important step in the re-opening of our industry and will allow landlords to show suites to potential tenants and complete necessary repairs. We continue to urge landlords to operate with an abundance of caution when considering the need to enter a tenant’s suite and refrain from doing so when at all possible. If landlords must enter a tenant’s unit, they should follow the guidelines set out by the Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonny Henry. This includes wearing a mask, keeping at least 2 meters apart, proper disinfection, and handwashing.
When Ministerial Order M089 was introduced it also removed the right of both landlords and tenants to serve documents in person. The Residential Tenancy Branch Responded by issuing a Directors Order, which allowed the use of email as a method of service. Both measures will be reversed meaning that email will no longer be considered a method of service and serving in person will be allowed. Email as a method of service will likely return in the near future as a permanent fixture in the Residential Tenancy Act and/or Regulations.
The extension of the BC Temporary Rent Supplement (BC-TRS) is a very positive outcome and, again, a measure that LandlordBC aggressively advocated for. We are pleased with this outcome for both renters and landlords. The BC-TRS has been extended two months through August 2020.
We will have more information to share with you in the coming days. In the interim, we continue to encourage you to embrace Dr. Bonnie Henry’s advice; be kind, be calm and be safe.