John Horgan

Renters need more protections

“the Pulse” @ Vancouver Co-Op Radio, CRFO 100.5 FM, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Legal advocate with Tenants Resource and Advisory Centre says renters need more protections during pandemic crisis, but says one of Premier John Horgan‘s few promises will be far from effective.

NDP did little to protect renters

British Columbian renters are increasingly losing their homes because of the pandemic’s economic damage, but so far the B.C. NDP government hasn’t done enough to protect them — despite re-elected Premier John Horgan promising that “nobody should lose their home as a result of COVID-19.”

That’s according to Robert Patterson, legal advocate with the Tenants Resource and Advisory Centre. And he said the previous NDP government did too little on renter protections — and he has some hope a majority NDP will take bolder actions.

In particular, he wants more time considered for evicted tenants who lose their Residential Tenancy Branch appeals, which currently only give them 48 hours to vacate their homes, particularly if the tenants would face homelessness after being eviction.

He also wants to see consideration for tenants who are unable to pay their rent if they lost income and can’t cover the costs. Until Sept. 1, the province banned evictions for non-payment of rent, but when that ended said landlords could collect all the lost payments but only in gradual installments. Even that, however, could bankrupt many tenants living paycheque-to-paycheque and unable even to make their rent, let alone the extra missed payments.

And RTB hearings should be recorded to provide a clear legal record of what transpired when tenants face eviction from their homes.

$400 promised in 2017 already!

But according to TRAC, which advocates for renters across the province, one of the few promises for renters during Horgan’s election campaign was a repeat of one he’d promised and broken after the 2017 election — a $400 rebate for every renter in the province.

Patterson said that, although the extra $33 a month would certainly be welcomed by many, it amounts to too little an impact compared to the systemic problems facing renters and skyrocketing housing costs in the province.

He said the new majority government is instead an opportunity to take a more aggressive, effective actions to address many renters’ fears they might lose their homes through no fault of their own.

Listen to the CRFO interview here

Top photo credit: B.C. Premier John Horgan – by David P. Ball.

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