A sign hangs in the window of a west Toronto apartment on Thursday March 19, 2020. B.C. is one of multiple provinces that has put a moratorium on evictions amid COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

A sign hangs in the window of a west Toronto apartment on Thursday March 19, 2020. B.C. is one of multiple provinces that has put a moratorium on evictions amid COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

‘Nothing concrete’: Tenants, landlords lack details after B.C. unveils COVID-19 rental aid

Single mom in Golden says she’s already going to the food bank after being laid off

The B.C. government’s recently-announced rental aid package has renters feeling cautiously optimistic while landlords remain skeptical.

The aid included three main points: No evictions amid COVID-19, a rent freeze and $500 per month for up to four months for people affected by the crisis. Renters will apply for the funding but it will flow directly to landlords. For their part, Premier John Horgan asked landlords to work with tenants and pass on savings from recently-announced mortgage deferrals.

READ MORE: B.C. promises up to $500 monthly in rent support amid COVID-19

In Golden, Alice Phillips, a single mom with a five-year-old daughter, said any help is welcome after she got laid off from two hospitality jobs.

“Of course it would help,” she said. “[But] it doesn’t cover the full cost of my rent.”

That cost, for Phillips, is $1,300 a month. According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., that’s pretty standard for B.C.

The CMHC found that an average studio apartment costs $1,118 a month to rent, while a one-bedroom costs $1,260, a two-bedroom costs $1,468, and a three-bedroom costs $1,691.

But for Phillips, although the money would help in future months, she would be strapped for cash if she pays April’s rent, with little money left for other necessities. She worked two jobs: as a server at a ski resort and as bartender.

“Both of them are service industry jobs and both of them I make less than minimum wage, so I rely on tips,” she said.

“Usually I use my tips to go towards rent, to go towards groceries.”

Last week, she was forced to go to the food bank instead after both the ski resort and the bar shut down, laying her off.

Neither place is paying wages while they’re shut down and Phillips only found out the ski resort she works for shut down when she saw the announcement on Facebook.

“Most of us woke up the next morning and it was like, yeah, all the resorts are shut down,” she said. “We got no warning.”

It’s left Phillips scrambling about what to do.

“It’s really stressful and it’s really hard not knowing,” Phillips said. Even though she cannot be evicted for not paying rent, she’s worried about retaliation from her landlord after the moratorium is over.

But landlords aren’t necessarily pleased either. LandlordBC said it was “pleased” with the $500 monthly payments going directly to landlords.

“We are also pleased that the government was very clear that renters have a responsibility to pay their rent,” the organization said in a press release.

But the organization was not happy the rent freeze, which it said it would comment on at a later date, nor the ban on evictions. That moratorium, it said, could have “huge unintended repercussions” on landlords and the entire industry.

As a renter, Phillips said she was frustrated to see “nothing concrete” about any of the announced assistance. The province has said that people won’t be able to apply for the $500 rent supplement, paid out through BC Housing, until early April – past the rent deadline at the start of the month.

READ MORE: $1,000 payment for COVID-19 affected workers won’t come till May: B.C. finance ministry

Other supports from the province, including a $1,000 one-time emergency payment, won’t come till May. On the federal side, the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit, a promised $2,000 monthly payment for workers negatively affected by COVID-19, won’t have an application portal up and running until April 6.

In an email to Black Press Media, the housing ministry urged landlords to encourage their tenants to apply for the rental supplement.

“Where tenants are not paying rent in full, landlords should keep a record of how much rent is owed,” the ministry said.

But the ministry did not clarify what would happen after the COVID-19 crisis abated, and if, and how fast, tenants would be required to pay back missed rent.

“There will be more challenges ahead as this unfolds and as B.C. recovers. We will be working with landlords and renters to find a fair way forward for everyone.”

READ MORE: Trudeau unveils new $2,000 per month benefit to streamline COVID-19 aid


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusRentals

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Family Literacy Week is being celebrated in downtown Vernon with the first ever Story-Window Walk Jan. 21-31. (Literacy Society of North Okanagan)
Catch a Yeti in downtown Vernon

Literacy Week celebrated with first ever Story-Window Walk

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

A COVID-19 outbreak at Vernon's Heritage Square long-term care home has claimed seven people. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Two more COVID-19 deaths at Vernon care home

Heritage Square has now lost seven people due to the outbreak

A Salvation Army bell is rung by Michael Cronin as he staffs the charity’s red donation kettle in front of a grocery store, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020, in Lynden, Wash. The familiar ringing of handbells has gone silent at many Canadian shopping malls this year as the Salvation Army tries to cope with COVID-19 rules at a time of dropping donations. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Elaine Thompson
Record-breaking Christmas for Vernon Salvation Army

$640K and significant food donations pour into local organization ahead of holidays

A 2002 F350 was stolen from a Whitevale home sometime overnight Jan. 14. (Contributed)
Truck stolen near Lumby overnight

Lifted Ford stolen from Whitevale Road

President Donald Trump speaks to the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021 in Washington. The President is traveling to Texas. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Black Press Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

In case you missed it, here’s what made waves throughout the week

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(Big White Ski Resort photo)
13 more cases of COVID-19 tied to Big White Mountain cluster

This brings the total case count to 175, of which 32 cases are active

Most Read