VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — In the wake of a push by B.C. landlords to get their eviction privileges restored, a tenants’ rights group is pushing back.
A newly launched online campaign by Vancouver Tenants Union wants to put a stop to the possibility of reversing the ban on evictions during the pandemic.
We just got some bad news. It looks like BC government has shifted its focus to planning for removal of the eviction ban.
Thousands of renters need to speak out if we’re going to stop the government from enacting terrible policies. #BCRentCrisishttps://t.co/yq5bn7E5Yg
— Vancouver Tenants Union (@YVRTenantsUnion) June 7, 2020
The provincial government has confirmed it is working on policy amendments, which could allow landlords the right to evict tenants who haven’t been paying their rent once again.
Solutions for renters
Mazdak Gharibnavaz with the Vancouver Tenants Union says many renters in B.C. are barely hanging on during the pandemic.
“[Renters] are draining their savings. They’re going further into debt, whether that’s through a rent deferral solution that they have with their landlord, or some other way,” he explains.
While landlords can’t evict tenants for not paying their rent right now, that debt isn’t going away, and Gharibnavaz says there needs to be a long-term solution.
“They have essentially rent debt built up during this time,” he says.
So, Gharibnavaz says the petition is calling for the eviction ban to stay in place during the pandemic, and for the provincial government to work out a plan to cancel the accumulated rent debt.
“This is what renters need to in order to make sure they don’t bear the full brunt of this crisis,” he says.
Gharibnavaz adds the union has heard rumblings the provincial government is coming out with some changes, though it’s not clear what those will be.
“Maybe some sort of rent bank or something like that, where the renter is going to take on the burden,” he suggests.
A rent bank would loan renters a pool of money to repay back-rent, something the union says it wouldn’t support.
“These are solutions that would essentially ensure that landlords continue the same profit margins that they’ve had through the whole time.”
Last week, Landlord BC urged its members to fire off letters to the province’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Selina Robinson, calling for evictions rights to be restored.
A statement from the minister’s office says it “recognizes the need for transition measures to support both renters and landlords as we come out of the state of emergency.”
It adds those measures are being worked out now.
“We know we live in uncertain times, but we encourage landlords and tenants to continue to work together to maintain payments whenever possible. Government has been clear from the start that renters who aren’t experiencing financial hardship should continue to pay their rent, and we’ve been pleased to see the vast majority of tenants have paid their rent even during this difficult time.”
The statement notes the ban on evictions was only temporary and renters will be responsible for “outstanding rent” due once the province is no longer in a state of emergency.