B.C. Renter’s Guide to COVID-19 Financial Support
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing unprecedented job losses for many Canadians. With rent and mortgage payments still due on the first of each month, the federal government and B.C.’s provincial government have stepped in with new financial assistance programs.
To help you navigate through these uncommon times, this guide details every support program available to renters, homeowners, and workers in British Columbia through the state of emergency and how you can access them - without leaving the comfort of your home.
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) - up to $8000 over 4 months
British Columbia COVID-19 Tenant Support – up to $2000 over 4 months
B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers – a $1000 one-time payment
B.C. Hydro & ICBC payment deferrals
Increases to GST Rebates, the Climate Action Tax Credit, and B.C. Childcare Benefits
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
The CERB is a federal government supplement offering eligible Canadians $2000 of income every 4 weeks for up to 4 months. The 16-week CERB program offers a maximum of $8000 in total and is set to replace both the Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit, which were previously announced by the federal government. CERB Benefit payments are paid out in full, but are taxable for the 2020 year-end.
If you’ve lost your job, you’re sick, quarantined, taking care of somebody with COVID-19, or you’re staying home with children who are now out of school or daycare, you can apply for the CERB.
To qualify for the CERB, you must:
Be a Canadian resident of at least 15 years of age,
Receive no income for 14 consecutive days over a 4 week period during the state of emergency, and
Have earned at least $5000 over the previous 12 calendar months or in the 2019 calendar year from:
Maternity, parental leave, or adoption benefits
CERB payments will be backdated starting from March 15th, 2020 and will last until October 3rd, 2020.
If you’re currently receiving Employment Insurance or regular sickness benefits, you will not be eligible for the CERB - unless your EI payments run out prior to October 3rd, 2020.
Applications for the CERB are now available through Canada.ca. It’s expected to take between 3 to 10 days between applying and receiving your first payment.
British Columbia Temporary Rental Supplement
The province of British Columbia is offering up to $500 per month for low and moderate-income renters who are facing financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 crisis and do not qualify for existing rental assistance programs.
If you’ve lost your job or you’re experiencing a loss of income due to the pandemic, you’ll be eligible for the supplement starting in April.
The $500 support payments are being made directly to landlords through BC Housing and will last for up to 4 months, for a maximum of $2000.
You can now access the BC Temporary Rental Supplement online through BC Housing.
B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers
The BC Emergency Benefit for Workers is a $1000 one-time payment for BC residents who have lost income due to COVID-19.
Anyone receiving federal Employment Insurance or the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will be eligible for the $1000 payment.
Note that the BC Emergency Benefit is not provided by the Ministry of Poverty and Social Development.
Applications for the BC Worker’s Emergency Benefit will be made available in April.
Rental Freezes & New Rules for B.C. Tenants and Landlords
COVID had a clear impact on Canadian real estate. The B.C. government has announced a temporary freeze on rent increases beginning April 1st and lasting for the duration of the state of emergency.
There’s also a temporary freeze on all evictions in B.C. due to non-payment. Exceptions may be made to the eviction rule to prevent property damage, or if the tenant poses a health and safety concern.
Unless there is a health and safety concern or serious risk of property damage, landlords are now unable to enter rental units without the permission of the tenant.
Landlords may also restrict the use of common areas to prevent community transmission of COVID-19.
For anyone having trouble paying their electricity bills, BC Hydro is now offering deferred billing and flexible payment options without penalty. To discuss your options, call 1-800-BCHYDRO (1 800 224 9376).
If your account is overdue for $1000 or less and your home is facing disconnection, B.C. Hydro's Customer Crisis Fund grants up to $600 to help residents pay their bills on time.
For those with monthly auto insurance bills, ICBC will allow you to defer payments for up to 90 days without penalty.
Additional Tax Changes & Financial Relief
- The Federal Income Tax deadline has been extended to June 1st.
- If you’re eligible for the Climate Action Tax Credit, an extra one-time payment will go out in July 2020.
- B.C.’s 2020 Carbon Tax increase will not take place during the state of emergency.
- Student Loan payments are automatically frozen for 6 months starting on March 30th, 2020.
- School Tax Rates are being reduced by 50% for the 2020 tax year.
- B.C. is deferring Sales and Employer Health tax payments until September 30th, 2020.
- Child Care Providers that remain open will receive temporary emergency funding and be required to reduce the number of children under care to minimize COVID-19 transmission.
As we move through these uncertain times, it’s crucial that we work together through the short term challenges we’re facing so we can ensure success for both our residents and homeowners in the long term. As with any relationship, the key to success is open communication.
While we’re working on behalf of property owners and are obligated to collect rent, we understand that some people are facing sudden and unexpected changes to their finances. We encourage people to reach out to their landlords if they’re anxious about the future.
At Vantage West Property Management, the safety and well-being of our residents is our top priority.