The term “subsidized housing” generally applies to any housing where the government provides some sort of monetary assistance. As long as you are not a member of a housing cooperative (or “co-op”), subsidized housing is covered by the Residential Tenancy Act. Here are the most common types of subsidized housing:
- Public housing: BC Housing (government) manages public housing units for low-income families, seniors and people with disabilities.
- Non-profit housing: Non-Profit Societies (organizations) receive government money in order to manage subsidized housing developments for select tenants throughout the province.
- Rental supplements:
- Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) – cash assistance to eligible BC residents who are age 60 or over and who pay rent for their homes.
- Rental Assistance Program (RAP) – cash assistance for eligible low-income working families to help with monthly rent payments in the private market.
- Homeless Prevention Program – provides people at risk of homelessness with portable rent supplements to help them access rental housing in the private market.
The application process and eligibility requirements vary depending on the type of subsidized housing. For more information, see the BC Housing website
Finding public housing or subsidized housing can be a great option for obtaining housing that you would otherwise not be able to afford. The process, however, can take some time. It may be more realistic to begin the application process as part of a future plan rather than an immediate solution.
Tenants who live in non-profit housing are covered by the Residential Tenancy Act, and have the same rights and responsibilities as tenants in market housing, with a few exceptions.
- The landlord may issue a 2 month notice to end tenancy if the tenant ceases to qualify for the rental unit
A tenant could cease to qualify for a rental unit if:
- Their income increases above the amount allowed for the unit
- Their family unit changes and they no longer qualify for the size of the unit. For example, if children move out of the unit, the parents might only qualify for a smaller unit.
If the tenancy is a fixed-term tenancy, the landlord is not allowed to issue a notice to end tenancy for this reason with an effective date earlier than the end of the term.
- Rent increases
Tenants in subsidized housing are required to report the income of everyone living in the unit. If a household’s rent is related to the household’s income, the landlord may increase the rent by more than the annual limit if the income of the household increases and they qualify for a smaller subsidy.
- Subletting and Assignment
Tenants in non-profit or subsidized housing are generally not allowed to sublet or assign their unit, regardless of the length of their fixed-term tenancy.
Is BC Housing my landlord?
Some non-profit housing buildings are operated by BC Housing, but most are operated by independent, non-profit organizations. It is important to find out who your landlord is when you move in.
Tenants in non-profit housing are allowed to have guests stay overnight. However, if a guest stays for a long time and it looks like they have moved into the unit, this may be a breach of the tenancy agreement. Tenants in subsidized housing are required to report the income of everyone who lives in the unit. If it looks like a guest has moved in, and your landlord demands that you report their income, you may lose your subsidy or have to move out.