Renters need to find solution
Kirk Penton - Mar 25, 2020 - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

Even though the provincial government has put a moratorium on evictions, a local property manager says people still need to do what they can to pay their rent.

Premier John Horgan announced Wednesday that regular evictions cannot take place during the COVID-19 pandemic and that his government will be offering a $500 rent subsidy to certain qualifiers.

For others who have lost their jobs or can’t work because of the COVID-19 virus, national funding like employment insurance or the newly introduced Canada Emergency Response Benefit can help pay the rent. It is up to the tenants, however, to secure that funding.

“Tenants are contractually obligated to the rent on the first of the month,” a major Okanagan property management company employee, who is not permitted to speak publicly, said Wednesday. “What they’re saying is if the situation arises that a tenant can’t pay the rent because of job loss, then the tenant’s responsibility is to reach out to those resources and get the help that they need because it’s been offered and now approved.”

Essentially, the eviction moratorium means landlords no longer will issue five or 10-day notices. Evictions can still take place in situations where landlords need to protect health and safety or to prevent undue damage to the property. Landlords will likely reach out to the provincial Residential Tenancy Branch about eviction rule clarification if someone refuses to search for a payment solution.

One Okanagan landlord said one of their tenants was caught smoking in the lobby of his four-storey, wood-frame apartment building last week. His reasoning? He heard he couldn’t be evicted, so he was going to do whatever he wanted.

Another tenant thought since the government was deferring mortgage payments for six months, it meant he didn’t have to pay his rent, either.

The property manager said “reasonable resolution” is a term that will become popular as April 1 approaches. It’s unlikely provincial or federal funding will be available before then, so landlords are encouraging tenants to come to them in search of a solution. As long as there is communication, they said, the situation can probably be resolved. Approximately 20% of the property manager’s tenants have reached out to discuss alternate solutions.

“It’s the tenant’s job to reach out and qualify for (funding), and if they don’t qualify then of course they’re going to have to work with their landlords in situations where rent is going to be late,” the property manager said. “If it’s a situation where they can’t pay their rent, then the landlord and the tenant is going to have to work through that. There is no magic wand that makes rent go away and disappear in its entirety.

“… There should be no reason that tenants don’t communicate and don’t have the opportunity to pay their rent via the financial assistance programs, and we go from there.”

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