These are challenging times and LandlordBC continues its commitment to advocate on behalf of owners and managers of rental housing to all levels of government while doing our best to help you navigate the myriad of issues that our sector is facing today.
We have been communicating daily via multiple channels including our website blog, the new COVID-19 portal on our website, social media and the member exclusive e-newsletters that our members have come to rely upon. This flow of information will continue unabated in the coming days and weeks and we are looking to augment it with webinars and through our YouTube channel. We sincerely appreciate the many thoughtful comments and supportive feedback.
On Monday, Premier Horgan and Finance Minister James of the B.C. government have announced a $5-billion economic action plan to help families and businesses struggling financially through the COVID-19 crisis, including one-time payments of $1,000 to people who are now out of work.
The new plan has set aside $2.8 billion to immediately help people pay the bills and fund the services the public needs to get through the crisis, such as health care. The other $2.2 billion is allocated as relief for businesses and, eventually, their recovery after the pandemic. The $1,000 Emergency Benefit for Workers will be available to people who have been laid off, those who are sick or quarantined and those who’ve had to stay home to care for their children or sick family members. Anyone receiving federal Employment Insurance as well as anyone receiving the new Emergency Care and Emergency Support Benefits (for people who don’t qualify for EI) will be eligible to apply. The hope is that everything will be in place in time for cash to start flowing in May. The full text of their announcement can be found here.
The other specifics announced Monday include:
- A six-month freeze on student loan payments.
- Postponed tax increases that were scheduled for April 1.
- Postponed tax deadlines for businesses.
- An increase in the B.C. Climate Action Tax Credit for July 2020.
Of critical importance to owners and managers of rental housing is the Premier’s announcement that the anticipated plan from the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to help renters and landlords navigate this crisis, will be available Wednesday, March 25, 2020. We await the announcement and will share our thoughts and comments after the announcement.
Where we continue to stand
Over the course of our active and regular collaboration and discussions with the Province during the COVID-19 crisis, we have been very clear that our sector, owners and managers of rental housing, are deeply empathetic to the challenges renters impacted by the COVID-19 crisis are facing during these unprecedented times. Yes, we share the Province’s concern that folks should not be unhoused during this crisis for their own health and safety and the health and safety of others. At the same time, we have been very clear that the impact of this crisis cannot be placed on the backs of our sector, disproportionately represented by small mom and pop landlords with one or two rental units.
In that regard, we have been very clear that it is Government’s role to put relief programs in place, funded broadly by taxpayers, versus by individual business sectors. Furthermore, in the case of the rental housing sector, the vast majority of landlords are not “businesses” but rather individuals in the form of small mom and pop landlords. We are confident that the Premier, Minister James and Minister Robinson understand and agree with this core principle. We also wish to add that we appreciate that they are facing huge pressures to act, and we want them to know that they and their teams can continue to count on the support of LandlordBC through these difficult times.
As you know LandlordBC continues to advocate for renter supports like a rent bank and there’s been some confusion as a result. Let’s be clear that LandlordBC is not advocating for rent forgiveness. Quite the contrary. In our view, renters who can pay their rent have a responsibility to do so, whether impacted by COVID-19 or not. They should not be protected by eviction moratoriums for non-payment of rent. Such moratoriums have huge unintended consequences and will put the entire rental housing ecosystem at risk.
We hear advocates speak about landlords getting mortgage deferrals so they can “pass those savings onto renters”. Well, a mortgage deferral by a bank does not constitute any “savings” to the landlord. There’s no mortgage forgiveness (if you qualify for the deferral in the first place and many landlords will not), it has to be paid back with compound interest on the deferred amount. In other words, interest upon interest. And know that the bank absolutely secures any deferral it offers by way of their mortgage with the landlord (the deferred amount is added to the mortgage principal), whereas the landlord doesn’t have any security for deferred rent from a renter. Let’s be clear, it is Government’s role to put relief programs in place, funded broadly by taxpayers, versus by individual business sectors. Furthermore, in the case of the rental housing sector, the vast majority of landlords are not “businesses” but rather individuals in the form of small mom and pop landlords.
We look forward to the Province supporting renters and landlords during these unprecedented times and will continue to keep you updated including an e-newsletter once the Province announces its planned programming for renters and our sector on Wednesday, March 25. Please stay safe and healthy and please, please practice physical distancing and keep washing those hands like it means your life. Because it does.
We have previously provided you with information on the measures announced by the Federal Government last week. We’ve prepared a summary in a pdf form that you can and should share with your tenants so that they have a resource at their disposal. Click here to view and print this summary.
In this time of great uncertainty, we strongly encourage our landlords to delay serving any notices of rent increases. Additionally, landlords are encouraged to communicate to their tenants that may have already received a notice of rent increase that you will be forgoing this increase at this time. Landlords do not need to rescind their Notice of Rent Increase but simply provide direction to their tenants to continue paying their pre-increase rent for the time being.