Thousands of renters living in illegal suites can still qualify for the BC government’s rental supplement.
BC Housing has confirmed that the rent relief policy covers renters who are living in both legal and illegal suites, which are in many instances secondary basement suites.
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There is a growing concern that landlords of an illegal suite may be unwilling to complete their section of the Temporary Rental Supplement over fears of penalties for leasing an illegal suite.
But BC Housing states that they will not share the information of landlords and their illegal suites with any other government bodies.
Tenants are required to start the online application, while landlords will complete and submit it after receiving an initial approval from BC Housing on the eligibility of their tenant.
As this program is dedicated to helping cover rent, all monthly payments go directly to landlords via direct deposit.
To be eligible, the 2019 gross household income of applicants must be $74,150 for singles and couples without dependents, and $113,040 for households with dependents.
Those who are deemed struggling as a result of COVID-19 must be receiving or eligible for Employment Insurance or the federal government’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit, and provide evidence of a drop of 25% or more of their monthly household employment income. Furthermore, applicants must pay over 30% of their current household income towards rent.
For up to three months through the end of June, the program offers $300 per month for eligible applicants with no dependents and $500 per month for eligible households with dependents. Roommates will be able to apply for the supplement individually.
While illegal suites are technically not permitted, they account for a significant proportion of the rental housing supply pool in the province.
According to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, there are about 155,000 secondary suites in BC. Based on a 2017 survey, insurance company Square One estimates about 15% of these suites are illegal.
As of this morning, BC Housing has received 17,500 applications for the rental supplement.