VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A group representing B.C. landlords says it’s anticipating the province will to bring forward a proposal — possibly this week — to help them recoup unpaid rents during COVID-19.
David Hutniak, CEO of Landlord BC, says he’s hearing the province is finalizing a program that would give tenants until June 2021 to make up missed payments.
“The expectation is that the province is going to mandate that landlords and tenants enter into a repayment plan for unpaid rent during the COVID-period,” he tells NEWS 1130.
“That’s the expectation, that this will be mandated and it will be amortized basically over a 12-month period.”
Hutniak says this plan is imperfect, but it’s a compromise that will satisfy many landlords.
“In the context of where we’re at — the challenges for renters and landlords, and just the economic impact of COVID-19 — I think we have to try and work with government here to find some medium ground. If this is structured, I think it’s something that can work for a significant majority of landlords and our broader sector,” he says.
“It’s not the perfect solution obviously, I mean throughout the pandemic period we were having conversations with the province about the fact that this rent deficit is challenging for our sector, especially challenging for smaller landlords. These are rents and revenues that they require to pay their mortgages and cover their expenses to provide rental housing.”
Last month, Hutniak said 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.
Hutniak says he expects vacancy rates, which have been notoriously low in Vancouver, will rise which adds another element of uncertainty about the future for some landlords.
“We are in the midst of double-digit unemployment, foreign students aren’t coming to Canada, immigration is basically shut down, so vacancies are increasing. As a landlord with existing rentals, you’re obviously sort of wary of what the next six, 12, 18 months will look like,” he explains.
NEWS 1130 has reached out to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing for clarification and confirmation.
Meantime, renters advocates are campaigning for rent debt to be forgiven.
“We are truly concerned with a potential decision being made by our provincial government this week regarding lifting the ban on evictions for non-payment of rent. If this information is correct, the ban might be officially lifted for people who collected rent debt before or during the pandemic,” reads one Facebook post from the Vancouver Tenants Union.
A ban on some evictions was lifted in June, but the moratorium on eviction due to non-payment of rent remains in place.
Provincial rent supplements will remain available through August, eligible households with dependents receive $500 a month while those without dependents receive $300 a month.