B.C. government clarifies rules around evictions and a rent freeze during pandemic state of emergency

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      When Premier John Horgan announced on March 25 that B.C. tenants couldn't be evicted except when there were safety issues, it created some confusion.

      What constituted a safety issue? 

      This week, the provincial government offered clarification in a series of questions and answers on its website.

      Tenants cannot be evicted for unpaid rent or utilities, nor can they be kicked out of their home for cause. In addition, evictions cannot occur if the landlord or purchaser wants to use the suite.

      Caretakers cannot be evicted if they lose their job. And landlords cannot give notice to end tenancy for a demolition, renovation, or conversion of a rental unit, nor for a person failing to qualify for a rental unit in subsidized housing.

      So what can justify an eviction? Here's what it says on the website:

      The tenant or a person permitted on the residential property by the tenant has:

      • significantly interfered with or unreasonably disturbed another occupant or the landlord of the residential property;
      • seriously jeopardized the health or safety or a lawful right or interest of the landlord or another occupant;
      • put the landlord's property at significant risk;
      • engaged in illegal activity that
        • has caused or is likely to cause damage to the landlord's property,
        • has adversely affected or is likely to adversely affect the quiet enjoyment, security, safety or physical well-being of another occupant of the residential property, or
        • has jeopardized or is likely to jeopardize a lawful right or interest of another occupant or the landlord;
      • caused extraordinary damage to the residential property, and it would be unreasonable, or unfair to the landlord or other occupants of the residential property, to wait for the emergency order to end.

      Evictions are also justified if they're necessary to comply with an order by a municipal, provincial, or federal authority, or if the rental unit is "uninhabitable"

      In addition, a person can be evicted for a "frustrated tenancy agreement"—i.e. an earthquake has occurred, which is beyond anyone's control—or if a landlord or tenant dies.

      However, if there's another tenant in the agreement, no eviction can take place.

      Other justifications for eviction include abandonment of the suite, subletting or assigning the tenancy to another person, and foreclosure.

      Premier Horgan also announced a rent freeze during the province's state of emergency.

      But that doesn't prevent a landlord from issuing a notice of a rent increase.

      However, this rent hike cannot take effect until the state of emergency ends.