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B.C. landlords want province to undo ban on evictions, launch letter-writing campaign

Last Updated Jun 7, 2020 at 9:36 pm PDT

(iStock file photo)

David Hutniak, CEO of Landlord BC, wants the state of emergency order amended so evictions can go ahead

Hutniak says the residential tenancy sector needs to restart along with the rest of the economy

Landlords are writing letters to the housing minister asking for the evicion ban to be reversed

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) —  As parts of the economy open up, landlords in B.C. are asking the province to undo its emergency ban on evictions.

When announcing the moratorium on evictions, Premier John Horgan said it will remain in place as long as the province’s state of emergency order remains in effect.

When Horgan extended the state of emergency until June 9, making it the longest in the province’s history, he said he sees “no end in sight.”

RELATED: Province to provide rent subsidies, suspend evictions amid COVID-19 pandemic 

David Hutniak, CEO of Landlord B.C. wants the state of emergency order amended.

“If it’s going to continue indefinitely that’s going to be hugely problematic for our sector,” he says.

“We need to start transitioning back to normal tenancies and administration of the Residential Tenancy Act. There is that eviction moratorium, and we understood why it was put in place, but this really needs to be looked at carefully by the government in the context of the impact on our sector. It’s time to start transitioning back to normal with the rest of the economy.”

Hutniak wants landlords to be able to evict tenants for all the reasons specified in the legislation — including unpaid rent.

“There’s a huge amount of unpaid rent. We’re concerned, obviously, about the impact on renters because they’re going to have a rent deficit, but also on landlords. Right now there’s nothing from either the federal or provincial governmnet that’s going to backstop our sector for those rent deficits and that’s hugely concerning.”

He says payments in April and May were “better than expected,” but overall 10 per cent of people paid no rent at all. He also says a “significant cohort” paid less than 50 per cent.

‘No one is planning or contemplating some mass eviction’

Reinstating the right to evict is necessary, according to Hutniak, as part of an overall return to normalcy.

“No one is planning or contemplating some mass eviction here,” he says.

“We’re restarting the economy. They have a plan and we feel that if they feel justified in continuing the state of emergency — and that’s their call — it should not apply to residential tenancies. We need to get back to allowing the act to be administered.”

Hutniak says his members are writing letters to Minister Selina Robinson, and Landlord BC has provided them with a template.

“I am therefore writing you to respectfully encourage you to advocate to Premier Horgan and Minister Farnworth, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, on behalf of our sector to immediately consider amending the order with respect to residential tenancies (non-payment of rent, owner possession, damage to the rental unit/property or disturbing other tenants’ right of quiet enjoyment, etc.), because the longer the State of Emergency continues, and the eviction moratorium remains in place, the more exacerbated the situation will become,” the letter reads.

Hutniak says this does not constitute a campaign, rather the effort arose out of members’ concerns.

“When we talk to our members, they feel this is very critical and so we felt that this was appropriate that their voices be heard,” he says.

“The minister is acutely aware of the challenges our sector is facing. We’re a collaborator with the province here, there’s no heavy-handedness.”

RELATED: Many B.C. renters left behind by provincial subsidy: CCPA

Meantime, the Vancouver Tenants Union is urging tenants to push the province to keep the ban in place and offer renters post-pandemic relief.

“Thousands of renters need to speak out if we’re going to stop the government from enacting terrible policies. In order to make sure no one loses their home, the government needs to immediately extend the ban on evictions until the end of the pandemic and make a plan to cancel the rent debt accrued.”