UPDATE: COVID-19 and Residential Tenancies

As Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Horgan promise to support Canadians and British Columbians as we navigate the COVID-19 crisis, our thoughts go out to the people who have been affected by this unprecedented event.  We wish to especially thank the healthcare workers, local communities, and all levels of government for their efforts to contain COVID-19.

With the health and economic risks, and stress that comes with that, the last thing anyone needs to worry about is losing their home whether they are a renter or owner.  All levels of Government are especially focused on the precariousness of housing for a potentially massive swath of Canadians due to this unprecedented event. Needless to say, at a minimum, robust Government financial supports for renters impacted by COVID-19 are essential immediately.  Now is the time for government to get cash in the hands of renters directly impacted by the crisis.

Last week we shared some initials steps landlords can take to address the concern of COVID-19 in rental units. These steps include ensuring more regular cleaning of high traffic areas such as entryways, lobbies, and elevators with disinfecting products. These previously outlined steps are still strongly encouraged to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in multi-unit rental buildings.

We have added new recommended best practices aimed at keeping landlords and tenants safe in this unique time.

Showing Tenanted Suites to Potential Tenants or Purchasers
Our general advice is to not show tenanted suites currently; where possible, limit showings to already vacant suites. If showing a tenanted unit is not avoidable, we encourage extra precautions to prevent transmission. These recommendations include:

  • Avoid shaking hands and keep your distance
  • Instruct potential tenants/purchasers to not touch anything
  • Wipe down door handles and anything that you touch when showing the unit
  • Wash your hands before and after showing the unit

Common Areas
Shared laundry facilities present a unique challenge.  We recommend communicating to your residents to limit their use of shared laundry facilities and try to use them during off peak times. Where possible building managers should be sure to conduct more frequent cleaning of these shared laundry facilities with disinfecting products.

We recommend closing shared amenities such as gyms, pools and recreation rooms. Landlords should be clear in their communications with tenants that the closing of these facilities is temporary and that they will be re-opened as soon as deemed safe. These communications should include both signage and individual notices posted on tenants doors.

Elevator Usage
Public health authorities are recommending people practice common sense social distancing and while the recommended distance people keep is 1 meter this can be difficult in elevators. We suggest posting signage recommending tenants and occupants not get into already full elevators to ensure everyone can maintain adequate distance as advised. Signage should be posted on each floor to ensure all tenants and occupants are informed.

While guests cannot necessarily be restricted, it is reasonable to request that residents recognize their responsibility for their own health and safety and the health and safety of fellow residents, and therefore not invite guests recently returning to Canada from a foreign country and to support “social distancing” recommendations from our healthcare leaders.

As more information becomes available we continue to update you on best practices.