COVID-19 and tenancies
The COVID-19 provincial state of emergency declared under the Emergency Program Act ended at 11:59 pm on June 30, 2021.
Last updated: August 24, 2021
On this page:
- Public health guidance
- Rent repayment plan
- Rent increase freeze
- Independent living facilities
- Applying for dispute resolution during the pandemic
Landlords and tenants should continue to follow Provincial Health Officer (PHO) guidance on mask wearing, accessing common areas and accessing and showing rental units.
Masks in public indoor settings
Wearing masks in indoor public settings helps stop the spread of COVID-19.
Accessing common areas or rental units
Some people may not be comfortable with accessing common areas or rental units without some modifications. Landlords and tenants should work together to find solutions, where possible.
- BC's Restart Plan
- Review province-wide restrictions
- Read the Updated Recommendations on Open Houses statement from the BC Financial Services Authority (BCFSA)
Restricting use of common areas
Effective July 10, 2021, the provisions that allowed a landlord to reasonably restrict or schedule the use of common or shared areas to support physical distancing are repealed.
If the restrictions are kept in place by a landlord, a tenant could apply to the Director of the Residential Tenancy Branch for an order that their rent be reduced as a result of the landlord restricting a service or facility. A landlord would have to demonstrate to the Director that the restrictions are reasonable.
Effective July 10, 2021, the requirement for landlords to give their tenants a repayment plan for unpaid rent or utilities due between March 18, 2020 to August 17, 2020, is repealed.
All unpaid rents and utilities should be repaid by July 10, 2021, unless the parties agreed to an alternative arrangement to extend payments beyond July 10, 2021.
If there are unpaid rent or utilities and there is no repayment plan in place to extend payments, a landlord may issue a 10-day notice to end tenancy for unpaid rent or utilities.
The rent increase freeze was extended to December 31, 2021.
Annual rent increase notices with an effective date after March 30, 2020 and before January 1, 2022 are canceled. Do not pay the increased amount.
- This rent increase freeze does not include commercial tenancies, non-profit housing tenancies where rent is geared to income, co-operative housing and some assisted living facilities
- More information on whether tenancies are covered under BC Tenancy laws
- More information on rent increases
If you have a question about your living situation and the rent increase freeze:
Restrictions that may apply to visitors at long-term care or assisted living homes do not apply to tenants in an independent living facility.
Independent living facilities are generally covered under the Residential Tenancy Act. Assisted living and long-term care are not covered under this Act. During the pandemic some independent living residents have been told they are not permitted to have visitors or leave their residence and have been threatened with eviction if they do not comply.
- One of the standard terms of a tenancy agreement is that a landlord must not stop the tenant from having guests under reasonable circumstances in the rental unit
- Another standard term is that the landlord must not impose restrictions on guests
After July 10, 2021, if a landlord continues to restrict access to services or facilities, a tenant could apply to the Director of the Residential Tenancy Branch for an order that their rent be reduced as a result of the landlord restricting a service or facility. A landlord would have to demonstrate to the Director that the restrictions are reasonable.
- If a tenant receives a notice to end tenancy, or is threatened with eviction because of restrictions on movement in or out of the facility, they should contact the Residential Tenancy Branch and consider applying for dispute resolution
- An arbitrator, based on the evidence provided by both parties, will make a determination of whether the imposed restrictions are reasonable
Landlords and tenants can apply for dispute resolution when they can’t resolve a problem related to a tenancy.
Mediate BC is also offering a Quarantine Conflict Resolution Service
Filing applications and evidence
While Service BC and the Burnaby Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) office are currently open and have modified their operations to ensure public safety, parties are encouraged to file applications and evidence online.
Parties unable to use email or upload evidence may contact the RTB to determine other available options.
Parties must think carefully about what method of service they use to ensure materials are received by the other party while considering the recommendations on maintaining physical distancing or quarantine.
Parties may apply to the Director for a substitutional service order, seeking permission to use alternative methods of service.
Email service is a permissible method of service, if a party has provided an email address for service purposes. If a party has not provided an email address for service purposes, but there is a history of communication by email between the parties, a party may apply to the Director for a substitutional service order, seeking permission to use email as a method of service.
- Visit Canada Post website for updated mail delivery information
Do I have to provide medical information to my landlord and can they disclose my health status to others in my building?
The law gives tenants control over whether to share their medical information with their landlord, and whether the landlord may share it with others. For more information see the BC Civil Liberties Association information handout.(PDF,172KB)
I have an RTB arbitration hearing and need to see the Orders that were in effect during the state of emergency.
On March 18, 2020, a provincial state of emergency was declared to support the province-wide response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On March 30, 2020, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General issued Emergency Order #M089 (PDF, 296KB) allowing changes to tenancy laws to protect renters from losing their homes.
On June 24, 2020, Emergency Order #M195 (PDF, 691KB) was issued, rescinding the order dated March 30, 2020. Emergency Order #M195 was later repealed as of July 30, 2020 when the COVID-19 (Residential Tenancy Act and Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act) Regulation took effect.
Director's Orders and Practice Directives
On March 30, 2020, the Residential Tenancy Branch issued a temporary order that allowed for service of documents by email in limited circumstances during the state of emergency.
- Director's Order for substitute service effective from March 30, 2020 through June 23, 2020 (PDF, 135KB)
On June 24, 2020, a new Director's Order was issued, rescinding the order dated March 30, 2020. This new order continues to be in effect until the end of the state of emergency.
The Resident Tenancy Branch also issued a Practice Directive to arbitrators regarding the Director's Orders, changing time limits for landlords and tenants affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic. This Practice Directive lapsed at midnight on June 24, 2020.
The Director's Order and accompanying Practice Directive issued March 30, 2020 are no longer in effect but still may be applicable to events that occurred prior to June 24, 2020.
Enforcement of orders
All Residential Tenancy Branch orders can be enforced by the Courts.