VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Renters in B.C. will no longer have the protection from the provincial government when it comes to being evicted by their landlords during the COVID -19 pandemic. And now, the end of the moratorium is causing some major concerns for vulnerable tenants.
Vincent Tao, with the Vancouver Tenants Union, says he fears the end of the moratorium will leave thousands of people open to evictions.
“It’s the beginning of an eviction crisis,” he tells NEWS 1130. “It’s a terrifying time, and the government has done nothing to help. Premier John Horgan said at the start of this crisis that no one would lose their homes because of COVID-19. And we don’t think that’s the case.”
Tao says while the NDP government has created a program giving tenants until next summer to pay rent owed for the last five months, he adds thousands of people in B.C. are still at risk of losing their homes.
“If we can reinstate the ban on evictions, then that will give some relief to tenants and renters who are also working people. We also need the CERB to be extended. We need to freeze rising rents; this is not the time to be lifting up the eviction ban. Numbers are up again in terms of infections and the economy has not been rebooted. A lot of jobs are still not around,” he says. “I think we’re going to be in a catastrophe and people are going to end up on the streets.”
Landlord BC argues most of its members are willing to work with renters who are short on rent before issuing an eviction notice.
But Tao says people going into rent debt agreements will still struggle to make ends meet.
“I think that we’re going to see massive transformations across the city, not just for those in rent debt, but people across the city whose evictions were paused during the COVID period, people who they may not have been paying rent or maybe they were paying a partial rent — now they’re going to have to pay full rent in addition to maybe not having a job, and maybe not being able to return to their job. This is going to have huge, huge implications and huge effects across the city.”
Tao says if the province is listening to British Columbians’ feedback, they should extend the evictions ban until the end of the pandemic.
“They’ll also [need to] extend the freeze on increasing rents and ultimately, what we need is rent debt cancellation,” he adds.
On Tuesday the VTU launched a website to track evictions and he says numbers are already not looking good.
“Two-thirds of the respondents were on CERB, and are afraid that once CERB winds down, and the temporary rental supplement dries up, people won’t be able to afford rent and we’ll have to go into rent debts,” he says.
The union will also be contacting Carnegie Outreach Program in the case tenants need help being put on the BC Housing list.