If you’re a tenant or a landlord, you may be wondering whether rules have changed during the COVID-19 crisis for who can access your rental unit. To help, we’re sharing some information from the Government of British Columbia.
Can a landlord enter my rental unit?
In order to minimize the transmission of COVID-19, the emergency order says that landlords are not permitted to enter rental units without the consent of the tenant, unless there is risk to personal property or life.
This means that even if appropriate notice has been served, the landlord cannot enter the rental unit without the consent of the tenant (barring risk to property or life), as long as the emergency order is in effect.
If the tenant does consent to allowing their landlord access to the rental unit, everyone should still maintain safe physical distancing to prevent transmission of the virus.
What are some examples of situations where landlords must receive consent from the tenant before entering?
- Making regular repairs
- Showing the unit to prospective tenants
- Hosting an open house
How can landlords show units to prospective tenants?
Here are some ideas to consider:
- Show vacant suites
- Use virtual tours, video conferencing, photos and online floor plans
- Send documents via email
- Use electronic signatures
- Use online payment methods
- Conduct communications in digital settings
- Email, phone, video conference, etc.
Can a landlord restrict my access to a shared service?
A landlord can reasonably restrict or schedule the use of common or shared areas to prevent the spread of the virus (i.e. support physical distancing).
Any rules imposed apply to both tenants and guests of the rental building.
However, a landlord’s restrictions must not prevent or interfere with the access to the tenant’s rental unit.
Temporary restrictions (scheduling or closing) to common areas are considered reasonable if they are made:
- To protect the health, safety or welfare of the landlord, the tenant, an occupant or a guest of the residential property due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- To comply with an order of a federal, British Columbia, regional or municipal government authority, including orders made by the Provincial Health Officer or under the Emergency Program act.
- To follow the guidelines of the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BC CDC) or the Public Health Agency of Canada.
What are some examples of reasonable restrictions?
- Closing access to gyms, recreation rooms, pools and hot tubs where physical distancing cannot be maintained at all times
- Limiting elevator use to 2-3 passengers at a time
- Limiting the number of residents in laundry facilities at a time. (This could be done through a schedule to manage the number of residents in the room at any given time.)
- However, landlords should make all reasonable efforts to allow tenants to have safe access to laundry rooms.
It’s important that you know that if a service or facility is restricted in response to an Order of a public health official during the COVID-19 pandemic, landlords are not expected to reduce a tenant’s rent.
What else to know:
If you’re a tenant, you should still pay rent in full and on time, if you’re able. While the state of emergency temporarily suspends a landlord’s ability to end a tenancy if a tenant does not pay the rent in full and on time, a tenant who has not paid rent could face eviction once the state of emergency is over.
If you’re a tenant that’s experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19, you may find these resources useful:
- The B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers
- Temporary Rent Supplement
- Federal government financial supports
Also check out the recommended blog posts section below—we’ve written guides on many of these resources.
Did you like this? You might like these posts too!
- The Canada Emergency Response Benefit: what you need to know
- What else you should know about the Canada Emergency Response Benefit
- How to apply for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB)
- Under financial stress? Watch out for loans that ask for a fee upfront
- How to apply for the BC Emergency Benefit for Workers
- How to apply for BC Housing’s BC Temporary Rental Supplement Program
- COVID-19: how to request a deferral on your Autoplan payment plan
- COVID-19: how to request a grant under BC Hydro’s Customer Crisis Fund
- What to know about BC Hydro’s COVID-19 Relief Fund for residential customers
- Fortis BC’s COVID-19 Customer Recovery Fund
- COVID-19: tips for apartment residents
This is an evolving situation and information is changing all the time, so go to the source for updated information.
Where do we fit in? Yes, we are a provincial regulator. We are responsible for some very specific transactions in BC. We aren’t experts on COVID-19. We won’t – and shouldn’t – ever give medical or legal advice. But we are in a unique circumstance right now and we want to help people navigate the current reality. We don’t have all the answers, but we will do our best to share information from reliable sources, put it in ways that are easy to digest and understand, provide referrals and help you navigate this situation.
About Consumer Protection BC: We are responsible for regulating specific industries and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.