Due to COVID-19, many people have found themselves unemployed for the foreseeable future. In order to make housing more secure in this time of financial uncertainty, BC Housing relief funding has been announced. New information provided by BC Housing has confirmed that renters living in illegal suits within the province can still receive rent support. 

According to the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre, an illegal suit is a secondary suite that does not have approval under B.C. building codes or city permits for a wide variety of reasons. 

In March, BC housing came out to announce that it would be granting $500 per month to people renting in the province as part of a relief fund, though, it would be going directly to the landlords. 

This announcement was made at the same time BC Hydro confirmed a payment deferral program for all customers. 

Within the BC Housing statement, there was no information given on whether or not illegal suites would qualify for the payments. 

“With lost jobs and lost wages due to COVID-19, many tenants are worried they can’t make the rent. It’s a challenging time for landlords too,” said Premier John Horgan in a press release

“Nobody should lose their home as a result of COVID-19. Our plan will give much-needed financial relief to renters and landlords. It will also provide more security for renters, who will be able to stay in their homes without fear of eviction or increasing rents during this emergency.”

BC Housing has now clarified with City News that any landlord who is renting out an illegal suit will not have their information shared with any other government bodies. 

In a tweet, BC Housing stated that tenants living in illegal suits in the province can still receive the rental supplement. 

“If your landlord isn’t cooperating, please let us know so we can figure out another option,” reads the tweet.

In the same tweet, the service confirmed that landlord information would not be shared. 

Justin Fung, with Housing Action for Local Taxpayers, spoke with City News stating that illegal suits are a key component of affordable housing. 

These properties may not be up to code or may have rent being paid under the table.

In these situations, there may also be an informal agreement with the property rented to family and friends. 

Owners of illegal suits can face penalties and fines should they be reported for any reason and don't meet codes. 

Right now, the application for the $500 a month is open. The funds are allocated for those who may have found themselves without a job due to the pandemic. 

Unlike EI benefits, the money will be paid directly to the landlord on the renter’s behalf and not deposited into the renter's account. 

This would ensure landlords continue to receive rental income during this time. 

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