COVID-19 and Residential Tenancies: Does My Tenant Have to Pay Rent?

As of March 30, 2020, there are changes to the BC Residential Tenancy Act and BC Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act that will remain in force until our provincial state of emergency ends. These changes:

  • establish a general moratorium on evictions, except if a landlord can prove extenuating circumstances;
  • freeze rent increases;
  • allow landlords to restrict tenants’ access to common areas;
  • restrict landlords’ ability to enter the rental unit, unless there is a risk to personal property or life; and
  • change the procedures for handling dispute resolution.

In a series of articles, our firm will provide insight into each of these changes.

Many landlords are concerned that the changes to BC’s tenancy legislation mean that BC’s government has mandated free rent for tenants during this period. In effect, the changes to the legislation allow tenants to defer all or a portion of their rent without fear of eviction during the state of emergency. Tenants who do not pay their rent in full and on time will carry forward a debt to their landlord, which will be immediately due and payable once the state of emergency is over.

In the normal course, BC’s tenancy legislation allows landlords to issue a 10-day Notice to End Tenancy for Unpaid Rent to tenants if rent is overdue. After 10 days, if the rent has not been paid, the tenant has not moved out and the tenant has not applied to the Residential Tenancy Branch to dispute the notice, then the landlord may seek an order of possession of the rental unit and monetary judgment against the tenant for outstanding rent. A bailiff can enforce both the order of possession (by removing the tenant and their personal property lawfully) and monetary judgment (by seizing certain of the tenant’s personal property) on your behalf.

During the provincial state of emergency, changes to the legislation prevent landlords who do not receive rent from their tenants in full and on time from issuing the 10-day Notice to End Tenancy.  However, it is important to understand that the changes to the legislation still require tenants to pay their rent in full and on time.  As soon as the provincial state of emergency ends, the tenant must immediately pay all outstanding rent to the landlord or the landlord may issue the 10-Day Notice to End Tenancy and commence a claim for the outstanding rent.

This means that tenants who do not pay their rent in full during our state of emergency will risk eviction and judgment against them once the state of emergency is over.

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