EDITORIAL: British Columbia’s renters and landlords needed help yesterday

Too little too late from both federal and provincial governments

If you are a residential tenant, were you able to pay rent yesterday? If you are a landlord who didn’t receive your rent, can you make your mortgage payment?

To say these are anxious times is a gross understatement. In a province where many people were already living paycheque to paycheque, widespread job loss will likely have a devastating effect on a great many people.

The federal government hasn’t offered concrete help to directly aid landlords or tenants.

In B.C., Premier John Horgan announced that new and active evictions are halted, and annual rent increases are frozen. This should be some relief to tenants.

Horgan also announced the B.C. Temporary Rental Supplement (BC-TRS) program meant to provide up to $500 to be paid directly to landlords. A good news announcement, but with April 1 in the rearview mirror, tenants can’t apply for this money until mid-April.

• READ MORE: Help on way for renters amid COVID-19, B.C.’s housing minister says

• READ MORE: ‘Nothing concrete’: Tenants, landlords lack details after B.C. unveils COVID-19 rental aid

Maybe they will be able to pay their May rent, but this means a great many tenants were not able to pay their April rent.

“This does not mean that tenants do not have to pay rent,” that according to information provided to landlords by LandlordBC.

And from BC Housing’s website on the question of whether tenants needed to pay April rent: “Yes, you should pay your rent for April.”

But whether it should have been paid is not the same as whether it could have been paid.

Pronouncements about programs that start up after rent is due are cold comfort for those needing to make mortgage payments to financial institutions.

There are no easy solutions to this dilemma, but according to a recent poll by the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union, 72 per cent of Canadians think the Government of Canada should halt all rent, mortgage, and utility payments.

And 64 per cent think that banks and financial institutions should not be allowed to charge interest on mortgages deferred because of COVID-19.

Government is in a tight spot, but landlords and tenants need more decisive action.

And they needed it yesterday.

Black Press Media

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