New BC conflict resolution service settles self-isolation rental housing disputes

Apr 10 2020, 8:57 am

“You have a relationship with your landlord, let’s all hope they’re good relationships,” said BC Premier John Horgan during a March 25 press conference on the possibility that renters and landlords can come to an amicable solution to rent payments during the economic crisis as a result of COVID-19.

This is certainly not always the case.

But there are now potentially a myriad of challenges as a result of self-isolation, affecting tenants, roommates, and neighbours, with close proximity during all hours of the day breeding discontent.

For instance, excessive noise crossing shared walls and other minor issues can now become far larger issues. Perhaps roommates may have disagreements over bringing friends over during self-isolation.

This is why the new Quarantine Conflict Resolution Service (QCRS) may be useful in some situations. The service, in partnership with LandlordBC, is being launched by not-for-profit MediateBC, which is funded by the provincial government and the Law Foundation.

“COVID-19 is leading to so many different kinds of conflict in housing situations. Noise, heavy use of common WiFi, anything that was a minor issue when people were in and out of their homes for much of the day is suddenly a much bigger deal,” said QCRS program manager Amanda Semenoff in a statement.

“And, of course, people sharing common spaces may have very different ideas about how social distancing applies. Mediators can help with these difficult conversations.”

The service is not free, but it is relatively affordable — available on an annual income level sliding scale starting at $20.00 per hour. Mediations will be held online, with mediators meeting with the people involved over the phone, Zoom, or another distance option.

“Adhering to social distancing presents specific challenges for people sharing a living space,” said Kimberley Coates with LandlordBC.

“How do they talk about the fact that the landlord has personal safety concerns for all residents of the building? Or roommates who previously worked opposite schedules who are now learning how to cohabitate? It is only natural that conflicts may arise.”