B.C.’s eviction freeze under COVID-19 keeps landlords out of own home

The B.C. government’s freeze on evictions is meant to help struggling renters during the novel coronavirus pandemic, but a Vancouver Island couple says the ban has backfired and is keeping them from their own home.

Gunn Yardley and her husband rented out their home while away on an extended winter vacation, but said that when they returned from Mexico, their short-term renters stayed put and stopped paying rent.

Instead of living in their home, they now have to rent themselves. Yardley said she’s owed $10,000 in unpaid rent.

“We gave them a 10-day eviction notice,” she said. “We had a hearing set up because (they) argued against it for the 26th of March.”

That was right around the time evictions were banned in B.C. except under extreme conditions to help people who were out of work due to the pandemic. Not paying rent or utilities does not qualify as grounds to kick someone out.

Global News attempted to interview the Yardleys’ tenant, but he declined and said he would send a statement, which has yet to be received.

Another landlord, Melissa Reddy, is worried about losing her investment property in Abbotsford.

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“(The tenants have) been in there since July and they stopped paying rents in December,” she said.

The tenants did not return Global News’ multiple requests for comment.

Renters who face financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 can apply to receive as much as $500 a month under the B.C. Temporary Rental Supplement Program. A landlord cannot apply for the supplement on behalf of a tenant.

Some tenants may choose not to apply, Reddy said, if they are not on good terms with their landlord.

In a statement to Global News, the Ministry of Housing said “no one solution fits every situation,” and that cases such as Reddy’s and Yardley’s are rare.

The ministry went on to say tenants should continue to pay their rent and that the moratorium on evictions is temporary.

“Renters will be responsible for outstanding rent due after the state of emergency is lifted,” the ministry added.

But the homeowners feel tenants are getting all the protections.

“It’s very taxing on our minds and our, you know, our well-being,” Yardley said.

Reddy echoed that sentiment.

“It’s stressing us out,” Reddy said. “You know, I’m fighting with my husband and I’m taking it out on my kids. And it’s just not good right now and there’s just no end in sight.”

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