Keeping Landlords Informed

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s recent announcement that BC will not be entering Step 4 and the subsequent order mandating that masks must be worn in all indoor public spaces are concrete reminders that we are not yet out of this pandemic and further vigilance is required by all sectors. While there are currently no orders specifically directed at residential tenancies, we as an industry can and should continue to do all we can to curb this fourth wave of COVID-19.

Throughout the past nearly year and half, LandlordBC has worked tirelessly to ensure rental housing providers are kept up to date with the most recent relevant information pertaining to COVID-19 to ensure we all make it through this pandemic safely. LandlordBC will continue to provide updates as our Province and Country begin to fully reopen.

Masks

While not specifically included in the recent order regarding the wearing of masks, the Provincial Health Officer does highly recommend the use of masks in indoor residential common areas. LandlordBC encourages all landlords, property managers, resident caretakers, and onsite staff to continue to wear masks in all indoor common areas. Additionally, the Residential Tenancy Act allows Landlords to set rules regarding the use of common areas and as such may post signage requiring residents to wear masks in all indoor common areas.

Common Facilities Closures

As part of Step 3 of BC’s Restart Plan gyms and recreation facilities will slowly be able to open for more patrons. Landlords must consider starting to open their common facilities but still limit the number of people allowed in these spaces at any given time with a gradual reopening to normal in the coming months. Additionally, landlords should continue to ensure all high touch surfaces are cleaned and disinfected regularly.

Landlords who choose to keep these facilities closed without a reasonable purpose or those who opt for permanent closure will need to reduce their tenants’ rent by the value of that service or facility. Members can read more about Terminating or Restricting a Service or Facility in the members-only section guides on the LandlordBC site.

Common Area Cleaning

Landlords should continue to regularly clean and frequently disinfect high touch surfaces in common areas. This includes door handles to common doors and elevator buttons.

 

Entering Tenanted Rental Units

There are currently no COVID-19 related restrictions on entering tenanted rental units, but LandlordBC recommends avoiding entry except when it is necessary, and where possible, utilizing technology to show tenanted units to prospective tenants or purchasers. LandlordBC also recommends that anyone entering a tenanted unit wear a mask and touch as little as possible.

When showing a unit to potential tenants or purchasers, rental housing providers are recommended to continue to keep numbers low – both in number of people in the rental unit at one time and frequency. These precautions are especially important for senior or vulnerable tenants.

Collecting Rent

While most aspects of life are starting to return to normal landlords and tenants can continue to utilize methods of rent payment that do not require contact. This includes:

Email Money Transfer
Most financial institutions offer this service. The payor (tenant) sets up a payment which is sent to the payee’s (landlord) email which can be deposited into the landlord’s account.

When setting up an email money transfer the payor must create a security question and answer which is answered by the payee to verify they are the intended recipient. It is critical that landlords and tenants ensure that the security question and answer are not easy for a third party to guess.

Online Payment Systems
There are several online landlord/tenant payment solutions which allow tenants to pay their rent in the same way they may pay other bills such as a telephone bill.

Pendo allows landlords to set up or invite your tenants to pay their rent through PendoPay’s direct bank transfers.

Pre-Authorized Debit
A pre-authorized debit (PAD) is a direct and scheduled payment that is set up through a tenant’s and landlord’s financial institution. Landlords wanting to get this set up must contact their financial institution to request a PAD agreement which will be completed by their tenant.

Vaccines and Tenancies

Ending tenancy is a highly regulated and governed process which aims to strike a balance between a tenant’s right to secure and long-term housing and the landlords right to remove them if a situation arises that warrants such action. This process is primarily governed by the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) but the Human Rights Code also applies.

In cases where a tenant has opted to not get vaccinated it is our understanding that ending tenancy would potentially breach the Human Rights Code and additionally not be supported by the RTA if challenged through their Dispute Resolution process. Landlords should encourage unvaccinated tenants to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

As the province continues to navigate this pandemic more information will become available as to what not having a vaccine means in regard to access to spaces, but we do not anticipate any changes relating to residential tenancies. We encourage all rental housing providers, especially those with multi-unit residential buildings to remain vigilant in cleaning and disinfecting common areas.

Rental Repayment Plans

To address any unpaid rent from April 1, 2020, to and including August 1, 2020, the Government introduced the Rental Repayment Plans. These plans were meant to be served by landlords to their tenants with arrears and provided the tenant with the opportunity to repay with equal payments over several months.

July was the last month for standard RTB Rent Repayment Plan payments and if the repayment plan was correctly implemented there should not be any outstanding rent after July 1, 2021. Landlords who did not serve their tenant a repayment plan but have unpaid rent from April 1 to August 1, 2020, and still have unpaid rent should apply for Monetary Order.

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LANDLORDBC OFFICE INFORMATION

While we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and try to keep everyone as healthy as possible, both our Vancouver and Victoria offices will be closed and our staff is working remotely and practicing social distancing as ordered by the Provincial Health Officer. The helpline will continue to be available Monday to Friday, 8:30am – 4:30pm
at 1-888-330-6707.

If you need Tenancy Agreements, Applications, or Condition Inspection Reports, please note that all of our forms are available free online for members here.