While the emergency order is in place the province is suspending current and future evictions until the crisis has passed, Premier John Horgan announced last week.
But he did say there would be some exceptions.
Exceptions can include criminal issues and damage, said Rich Coleman, MLA for East Langley.
“It’s such a critical time right now. The best we can do is encourage people to work together,” he said.
But Coleman confirmed tenants cannot be evicted if they are unable to make rent.
“If somebody can’t pay their rent, it’s still an ongoing debt, but there would be no eviction taken with regards to the nonpayment of rent because that’s what the suspension of evictions is all about,” he explained.
In addition to the suspension of evictions announced by Horgan on March 25, the province made two other major announcements to provide renters and landlords some financial relief.
Those who qualify will receive up to $500 each month delivered through BC Housing and landlords are prohibited from increasing rent during the crisis.
“This is not the time to seek rent increases and there is just zero chance of that happening,” Horgan said.
The $500 rental supplement will be paid directly to landlords, and tenants can apply through BC Housing starting mid-April.
“I want to reiterate if you can pay your rent, you should pay your rent. This fund is there to help those people who are in general distress,” Horgan said.
He also called on banks and financial institutions to “work with mortgage holders to make sure we are doing everything we can to get through this difficult time.”
Earlier, the province announced $5 billion in income supports, tax relief and funding in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Included in that is a BC Emergency Benefit for Workers that is set to provide a tax-free $1,000 payment to British Columbians whose ability to work has been affected by COVID-19.
The benefit will be a one-time payment for B.C. residents who receive federal Employment Insurance (EI), or the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
Later, Finance Minister Carole James said the $1,000 payment won’t come until May, she confirmed on March 24.
“If anybody really hits the wall or has an issue they can call my office and I can try and help them out,” Coleman said.
Coleman can be reached at rich.coleman.MLA@leg.bc.ca or 604-882-3151.
Alternatively, Mary Polak, MLA for Langley, can be reached at mary.polak.MLA@leg.bc.ca or 604-514-8206.
But ultimately Coleman said everyone should look out for one another.
“Tenants and landlords need to have a good relationship to get through this together,” he said.