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From paying rent to eviction fears, here are some of the concerns B.C. renters still face
VANCOUVER -- While a provincial subsidy has been introduced to assist renters during the novel coronavirus pandemic, many still face the stress of paying rent or holding onto their home in the coming weeks.
CTV Morning Live spoke with Robert Patterson, legal advocate at the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre, about the concerns renters have during the COVID-19 crisis.
Below is part of a four-minute interview, which has been edited for length and clarity.
CTV News Vancouver's Jason Pires: Why are some people still not able to apply for B.C.'s rent benefit?
Patterson: There are a number of barriers facing tenants that might want to apply for this benefit. One of the most significant ones that we've heard from tenants has been that some of their landlords have been unwilling to help them fill out the form.
The subsidy runs through BC Housing and they require that a form be filled out by both the tenant and the landlord. On our public information lines we've heard from a lot tenants who are concerned that their landlords aren't playing ball with them, for whatever reason.
The information that we've been passing along to those tenants is that BC Housing says that if your landlord isn't co-operating with you, that you can contact them directly and they'll do their best to work around that with you.
For many tenants, the $300 to $500 that they're receiving isn't enough to make up the loss in income that they're suffering as a result of this pandemic.
One thing that we've heard commonly from tenants is that landlords are offering them deferral agreements, so offering extra time for them to pay their rent. Some tenants feel like they're being pressured into these situations and they're not entirely sure what these agreements look like. So we've been telling tenants, "if you're not sure, it might not be a good idea to sign it."
Keri Adams: The province has enacted a moratorium on evictions for residential tenants. Is there a concern those evictions are just going to be held off until after the pandemic is over?
Patterson: Absolutely. It's a massive concern and I think it's the biggest concern our organization has. A recent survey shows at least 37 per cent of renters aren't going to be able to make their full May rent. I think that number is even higher in June.
Any tenant that doesn't pay rent during the emergency period, as soon as the emergency period is lifted, if they have any rent owing to the landlord, the landlord has the right under the act in regular circumstances to serve them with a 10-day notice to end tenancy.
If that happens, a tenant only has five days to either pay the balance owed or to dispute that with the Residential Tenancy Branch.
Pires: What are the rights for landlords and roommates if tenants are easing off on physical distancing?
Patterson: The current emergency protocols are that a landlord cannot exercise their right to enter the unit. So a tenant can simply say they're not comfortable with anyone coming in and can refuse entry.
Roommate situations are more complicated but I'd encourage people in those situations to contact us.
Adams: What happens if you're moving? Is there a safe way to do this?
Patterson: It's a very difficult situation to be in right now. I think there are probably moving companies that are happy to have business and as long as a tenant is comfortable moving, if they have to move, that's what they have to do.
But we're hoping both in the present and in the long term people aren't going to be forced out of their homes without their choice, which is why we're calling on the government to forgive all rent arrears at the end of this crisis and to also offer support to landlords who need financial support in order to maintain their own residences.
Pires: One final takeaway for renters?
Patterson: Tenants should pay their rent in full and on time if they can, and if they can't, it's time for us all to sort of start sharing our stories with government officials to make sure they make an informed decision about how to manage this crisis.
Watch the full interview, attached above, for more info.