If you are low income and hoping to find subsidized housing, see our Subsidized Housing page.
Intent to rent
Generally the Ministry will only provide shelter payments (money for rent) if they have proof of where you rent and how much you pay. You will be required to provide an “Intent to Rent” form when you get a new place.
Security deposit / utility supplement
You may be able to apply for a subsidy to pay your security deposit or utility supplement when you move. Money provided for a security deposit must be repaid to the Ministry, usually by taking $20 off of each monthly cheque.
You may be able to apply for a crisis supplement to help pay for rent, bills, food, or clothing. Crisis supplements are only awarded in limited situations where an unexpected expense could result in a threat to physical health or the removal of a child, and the applicant has no other resources available. Risk of homelessness due to an eviction notice can be considered a threat to physical health. If you think you might qualify for a crisis supplement, you may want to consider asking a legal advocate for help with the application.
You can request to have your rent deposited directly into your landlord’s bank account by MSDSI. If you choose this option, it is very important to ensure that the rent will be paid each month, as you could receive a 10 day notice to end tenancy (eviction notice) if it is not. This could happen if MSDSI makes a mistake, or if your file has changed and you are not entitled to your full benefits. For example, if you receive a large sum of money from someone, MSDSI may not provide you with a cheque that month. In that case, you would need to make sure that you pay the rent yourself by the day it is due.
The BC Human Rights Code prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants based on the source of their income, as long as it is legal. Landlords are allowed to ensure that you are receiving enough money to pay the rent, but they cannot refuse to rent to you simply because you are on income assistance.
See our page on Human Rights for more information.
It is important to remember that there is no provision in the Residential Tenancy Act allowing a tenant to stop paying rent because of personal hardship. This means that if you lose a job, have a dispute with MSDSI over your benefits, are hospitalized, etc., you are still responsible for paying your full rent on time. If you do not pay the rent you could receive a 10 day notice to end tenancy (eviction notice). If that happens, you will have five days to pay the rent to cancel the notice. It is very important to act quickly to find a way to pay within the deadline.
Options to consider:
- Contact a legal advocate right away for help.
- BC Housing runs the Rental Assistance Program (RAP) for low-income working families, and the Shelter Aid For Elderly Renters (SAFER) for low income seniors in market housing.
- Request a crisis supplement if you are on income assistance.
- Find out if your city has a rent bank that you can borrow from.
If you live in a detached unit (e.g. house, townhouse, manufactured home, etc.), and are paying for hydro, you may qualify for the Energy Conservation Assistance Program. Through this program, you can get a free evaluation of your unit and free energy saving devices, such as efficient light bulbs and showerheads. You will have to obtain your landlord’s permission in order to participate in this program. Here is the Application Form and Landlord Consent Form.