On March 25, 2020, the provincial government introduced some changes to the Residential Tenancy Act, which will be in effect for the duration of the provincial state of emergency. Specifically, residential landlords are not allowed to evict residential tenants except for in very special circumstances. Please note that the prohibition on evictions does not apply to commercial landlords and tenants because commercial tenancies are governed by the Commercial Tenancy Act (not the Residential Tenancy Act).
Notwithstanding the above, during the COVID-19 global pandemic it may be difficult for a commercial landlord in BC to evict their commercial tenant. The Commercial Tenancy Act does not grant a commercial landlord the “right of repossession” (ie. the right to evict the commercial tenant and re-lease the property to a new tenant) without a court order. A commercial landlord’s right of repossession is founded in the common law or expressly provided in the commercial lease itself. However, if a commercial tenant refuses to vacate the property after the commercial landlord exercises its right of repossession, the commercial landlord will likely have to obtain a court order to force the commercial tenant to comply. Practically speaking, obtaining a court order may be difficult while the provincial state of emergency is in effect. This is because the Supreme Court of British Columbia has suspended its regular operations at all of its locations to protect the health and safety of court users and to help contain the spread of COVID-19.
Please note that a commercial landlord may have alternative remedies available under the common law, commercial lease agreement or the Commercial Tenancy Act; however, they may run into the same practical problem if the remedy that the commercial landlord wishes to exercise requires a court order.
As the COVID-19 situation changes on a daily basis, please refer to the government BC website and/or the applicable court website for the current status of court services: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/justice/courthouse-services
If you have questions about commercial leases, please feel free to reach out to one of our lawyers practicing in the area of commercial real estate.
Author: Danielle (Dani) Brito
This information is general in nature only. You should consult a lawyer before acting on any of this information. This information should not be considered as legal advice. To learn more about your legal needs, please contact our office at (250)448-2637 or any of our lawyers practicing in the area of real estate law at the following: Jennette Vopicka: firstname.lastname@example.org Danielle (Dani) Brito: email@example.com Jane Otterstrom: firstname.lastname@example.org Sasha Platz: email@example.com Una Gabie: firstname.lastname@example.org