On March 17th, 2020, the BC Provincial government declared a State of Emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This announcement brought with it much uncertainty for all British Columbians — including landlords. While we are not yet out of the woods, we have entered a period of greater stability. For rental housing providers and tenants, much has returned to normal but there are still precautions and processed we must be aware of to navigate this new normal.
Rental housing providers and resident caretakers of multi-unit residential buildings are in a unique position to once again help flatten the curve and keep it that way. We encourage anyone responsible for a multi-unit residential building to adapt and continue to use the latest in best practices regarding building safety.
How do landlords ensure they are keeping their residents and staff safe in the time of COVID? Generally, this means more cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces such as door handles and elevator buttons. A vital aspect of this frequent cleaning and disinfecting is using the right type of cleaning product: regular household cleaning products are effective against most viruses. Alternatively, you can also use 1/50 solution of bleach and water (e.g. approximately 20 ml of bleach per litre of water or 2 ½ ounces per gallon) as an effective disinfectant.
Additionally, landlords may choose to keep common facilities such as gyms or games rooms closed during this time. Landlords that temporarily close these facilities do not need to offer compensation but those that choose to no re-open will need to reduce their tenants rent by the value of that facility.
For more details on safe premises visit landlordbc.ca/covid-19
Ending A Tenancy
Ending a tenancy is a serious measure and one that should not be taken lightly, however there are situations where it may be the only option. Landlords often find themselves in situations where ending a tenancy is necessary to allow a close family member to move in or new owners who wish to occupy the property after having sold their previous home, and occasionally due to a tenant’s behaviour. The ability to end tenancy was put on hold earlier this year as part of the Province’s response to COVID-19. With the recent changes to the legislation, many of the restrictions in place to stop end-of-tenancy procedures were lifted in June with the exception of unpaid rent between March 18th to August 17th, 2020, which needs to be addressed by a Rent Repayment Plan.
Rent Repayment Plan
In response to the financial hardship many tenants faced during the initial shutdown, the Provincial Government created a Rent Repayment Plan framework which allows tenants who did not pay their full rent between March 18th and August 17th to repay it over several months. The framework gives tenants until July 10th, 2021 to repay this rent.
Landlords were able to serve a Repayment Plan as of the end of August, with re-payments beginning on October 1st. While we encouraged landlords to act quickly on establishing a repayment plan to ensure the payments were spread over as many months as possible it is still possible to serve a repayment plan if you have not already.
Rent Increase Notices served in December 2019 would normally have had an effective date of April 1st, 2020. Through multiple Ministerial Orders and a change to the Residential Tenancy Regulations, this new effective date was delayed to December 1st, 2020. This change means that any rent increase served and received between December 2019 and August 2020 will be effective December 1st, 2020.
Landlords who have already served a Notice of Rent Increase do not need to serve a new notice. We encourage landlords to communicate with their tenants regarding their rent increase to ensure they are aware the increase will be effective December 1st.
The maximum rent increase for 2021 is 1.4%. Additionally, the normal service period of 3 clear calendar months will be in place for any increases served and received in September onward. Landlords who have a rent increase effective December 1st, 2020 will now use this as their rent increase anniversary date for the 2021 increase.
Read about rent increases here.
As we navigate these difficult times LandlordBC will continue to keep you informed on updates to legislation and industry best practices. We are all in this together and it is in that spirit that landlords, tenants, and all British Columbians will persevere.
Q: What if I do not serve a repayment plan before the end of August?
A: While we encourage you to serve a Repayment Plan before the end of August, this is not mandatory. If a repayment plan is served in October, the first installment would simply be delayed to December.
Q: What happens if I make a mistake when filling out the Repayment Plan Form?
A: If you make a mistake such as miscalculating the total amount of rent owed you must serve an updated repayment plan. This may delay the start date of the repayment plan.
Q: I have served a Repayment Plan, does my tenant have to pay their usual monthly rent in addition to the Repayment Plan installment?
A: Yes, the Repayment Plan only addresses rent due but unpaid between March 18th and August 17th, 2020. Beginning September 1st, 2020 tenants who do not pay their rent on the date it is due under their tenancy agreement may be subject to the 10 Day Notice to End Tenancy.
Q: I served a rent increase in March 2020 which was supposed to be effective July 1st, 2020; do I need to serve another rent increase for the December 1st effective date?
A: No, the rent increase that was served is still in place, but the effective date has been delayed to December 1st, 2020. We recommend you reach out to your tenant to ensure they are aware of this change.