Rent banks are not only for tenants but they are also an additional resource for landlords, too.
How do rent banks work?
Rent banks across the province provide small, interest-free loans to eligible low and moderate income renters. They help renters, who find themselves unable to pay their rent or utilities due to unanticipated expenses or emergencies, maintain their housing and support landlords by limiting rent payment interruptions.
Real-life examples include a young family who filed their income tax return late, triggering a halt in their regular child benefit payments; a single-mother who required car repairs on a vehicle that she relies on to transport her disabled child; and a seasonal worker who used the loan to pay the damage deposit on a larger home where his son and daughter could each have their own room.
In all of these cases, the individuals were renters who have the capacity to repay their loan over a six to 24-month period, which is an eligibility requirement for a rent bank loan.
Do rent banks do more than lend money?
Yes. Rent banks are currently operated through partnerships with non-profit agencies, which already have deep roots in their communities because they are existing community-service providers.
Rent bank staff are experienced and trained to step in to mediate and support resolutions between landlords and their tenants, and they complement the loans they provide with access to other information and supports, such as financial advice and recommendations for government subsidies, programs, and/or benefits that individuals may be eligible for.
Who finances rent banks?
BC Rent Bank, which received its funding from the Province of B.C., provides seed funding for new rent banks; up to 80 percent of a rent bank’s first year of operations and loan values. This allows the non-profit operator of each new location to have sufficient time to develop a longer-term financial sustainability plan, which includes securing new local investment partners to fund future loans.
When investors become part of the rent-bank housing solution, it’s a win-win scenario. It helps to ensure that tenants retain their housing and landlords are able to process rent.
Investors in rent banks include various levels of government, private landlords and property management companies, foundations with an interest in housing stability, the business community, financial institutions, and other community organizations and individuals.
Is there a rent bank in my community?
In British Columbia, there are currently 16 rent banks, including five new locations as of January 2021.
They’re located in:
- Burnaby (NEW!)
- Central Okanagan: Kelowna, West Kelowna, Lake Country, Peachland (NEW!)
- Fraser Valley: Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack, Hope, Agassiz, Harrison
- Langley: Township and City
- Maple Ridge (NEW!)
- Nanaimo Region (NEW!)
- New Westminster
- North Vancouver
- Pitt Meadows (NEW!)
- Prince George
- Sunshine Coast
- Surrey: Surrey, White Rock, Delta
- Thompson-Nicola: Kamloops, Merritt, Chase, Clearwater
- Tri-Cities: Anmore, Belcarra, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody
While not all communities in B.C. currently have access to rent banks, BC Rent Bank is working on expanding the network. With the opening of the rent bank in the Nanaimo Region and in the Central Okanagan in January 2021, approximately 82 percent of renters in B.C. will have access to a rent bank. BC Rent Bank has a provincial mandate to fund existing rent banks and to expand rent banks into new communities with a goal of supporting tenants in every corner of the province.
How to get involved
BC Rent Bank is working on creating the infrastructure necessary to support a province-wide rent bank system or service that is sustainable over the long-term. If you’d like to learn more or get involved in your local rent bank, contact Melissa Giles or visit www.bcrentbank.ca.