The Rental Assistance Program provides eligible low-income working families with cash assistance to help with their monthly rent payments.
Important: If you are an existing SAFER or Rental Assistance Program client click here to complete your annual reapplication Citizen Portal - Online services for existing clients.
About the program
The Rental Assistance Program provides eligible low-income, working families with cash assistance to help with their monthly rent payments.
To qualify, families must have a gross household income of $35,000 or less (maximum income increases to $40,000 effective September 2018), have at least one dependent child, and have been employed at some point over the last year.
Try the Rental Assistance Program Calculator to get an estimate.
- Rental Assistance Program - Application Form
- Rental Assistance Program Application Checklist
- Rental Assistance Program - Brochure
Am I eligible?
You will not be eligible for the Rental Assistance Program if:
- You or your family receive income assistance under the B.C. Employment and Assistance Act or the Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Act (excluding Medical Services only).
- Your annual gross household income is over $35,000 (Maximum income increases to $40,000 effective September 2018).
- You have more than $100,000 in assets.
- You live in subsidized housing.
- You live in co-operative housing and are a shareholder.
- You or a member of your family do not meet the residency requirements or came to Canada under a private sponsorship agreement that is still in force.
- You share a kitchen and/or bathroom with the homeowner/landlord.
You may be eligible for the Rental Assistance Program if you meet all of the following criteria:
Some or all of your annual household income must come from employment.
You have a gross annual household income of $35,000 or less (Maximum income increases to $40,000 effective September 2018).
- You have at least one or more dependent children. Who is considered a dependent child? An unmarried child, stepchild, adopted child or legal ward, mainly supported by the applicant, who is:
- Under 19 years of age; or
- Under 25 years of age and registered in full-time school, university or vocational institute which provides a recognized diploma, certificate, or degree; or
- Of any age who, because of mental or physical infirmity, is accepted as a dependent for income tax purposes.
Please note: In The Housing Registry, some providers may have different criteria about what constitutes a dependent child.
You file an annual income tax return.
You pay more than 30 per cent of your household income towards rent for your home, or pay pad rental for a manufactured home (trailer) that you own and occupy.
You have lived in British Columbia for the full 12 months immediately preceding the date of application.
Once you have confirmed your eligibility, the next step is to complete an application form .
Note: Income assistance already includes a subsidy portion for housing and you cannot receive a housing subsidy from two sources. If your income assistance has ended and you are receiving Medical Services only, you may be eligible for the Rental Assistance Program with documentation.
See our Glossary for definitions.
Complete an application form
There are three ways to obtain an application form for the Rental Assistance Program:
- Online: Download the Rental Assistance Program - Application Form
- By mail: If you do not have a printer, you can request a paper copy of the application form be sent to you by mail by completing an online request or by calling call 604-433-2218 or 1-800-257-7756
- In person: Pick up a copy of the Rental Assistance Program application form at any BC Housing office
Please see the Frequently asked questions section for further information.
Next step: Once you have completed an application form, the next step is to attach your supporting documents.
Attach supporting documents
When applying for the Rental Assistance Program, the following sections of the application form will require support documents.
You must send us copies of documents to support your eligibility and verify the information you provide in your application. Provide photocopies, not originals, of the documents.
Note: For more information on required documentation, click here to download a Rental Assistance Program Application Checklist . All information collected is for the purpose of determining eligibility and is kept strictly confidential.
You must have a bank account in order to receive your rental assistance payments. The cash assistance is only paid by direct deposit to your bank account on the last working day of each month. If you do not currently have a bank account, you will need to open one.
To set up your cash assistance by direct deposit:
Download the Rental Assistance Program - Direct Deposit Form
Complete the form and attach either:
A blank personalized cheque marked VOID: the cheque must be personalized by the bank (we will not accept cheques with hand-written information in the top-left corner)
A letter from your bank showing your bank account information: must be stamped by your bank.
All members of the household must be a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident or a refugee claimant. Provide a photocopy of any documents that apply, for you and for every family member.
- Born in Canada
- Canadian birth certificate – If you were born in Canada
- Note: If you are unable to find your birth certificate, you will need to contact Service Canada for the province or territory of your birth to obtain a copy. To find the website for your province or territory please visit the Service Canada website.
- Born to Canadian parent(s) outside of Canada
- Certificate of Registration of Birth Abroad or long form Certificate of Canadian Citizenship – If you were born outside Canada to parent(s) who were Canadian citizens at the time of your birth.
- Permanent Resident
- Immigration Record of Landing – If you arrived before June 28, 2002, the Immigration Record of Landing (or IMM 1000) is a paper document that verifies permanent resident status.
- Confirmation of Permanent Residence – If you arrived after June 28, 2002, the Confirmation of Permanent Residence (IMM 5292) is a paper document that verifies permanent resident status.
- Permanent Resident (PR) card – If you arrived after December 31, 2003, the PR card is a small, plastic, status card. It replaces the paper IMM 1000 and verifies permanent resident status.
- Refugee claimant document – If you are government-sponsored refugees or have claimed refugee status.
Provide a copy of one of the following documents:
- Rent receipt – from your landlord from the past 3 months. It includes your rental amount, address, date, name of the landlord and tenants, landlord telephone number, and landlord signature.
- Your rental contract.
- Notice of rent increase.
- Tenancy Agreement – it may be a form from the Residential Tenancy Branch of B.C. or another form.
- Cashed rent cheque – the front and back of the most recent rent cheque from your bank. If it is a copy and not the original, make sure your bank stamps the copy to verify it.
Provide a copy of any of the following documents that apply for yourself and your spouse:
- A bank statement from a financial institution (such as a bank, credit union) that shows the total value your chequing and savings accounts for a 30-day period.
- A letter from a financial institution(s) that shows the total value of any other assets or financial holdings.
- A recent Property Assessment Notice from BC Assessment, or a land title search showing the value of your property and proof of outstanding mortgage, if you own a rental property or other real estate.
There are two ways that you can provide your proof of income:
- Provide consent for Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to release to BC Housing information from your tax records. Consent can be provided by completing the Income Verification Request form .
- Provide copies of both last year's Income Tax Return (T1) and Notice of Assessment from Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
If you are not providing CRA consent and do not have your tax return and Notice of Assessment, you can log into your Revenue Agency account at www.cra.gc.ca/myaccount and print your assessment or call CRA at 1-800-959-8281 or 1-800-959-8281 to ask for an “Option C” printout into your Canada.
Provide a copy of any additional income documents that may apply to your situation:
- If you or your spouse reported income from self employment or business activities on last year’s Income Tax return, please attach a copy of the Statement of Business Activities (T2125) that was filed with your tax return.
- If you or your spouse receive any regular ongoing income from non taxable sources, please attach a cheque stub, bank statement, or other confirmation – that shows direct deposit or payment to you from any other sources. This includes pensions.
- If neither you or your spouse’s Income Tax Returns included income from employment but you or your spouse are now working, please attach a minimum of three recent consecutive pay stubs showing gross pay (before taxes) – or a letter from your employer – that states your current monthly or yearly income (before taxes).
Submit your application
You can apply one of three ways:
- In person: Bring your application package to a BC Housing office
- By mail: Rental Assistance Program, BC Housing, 101-4555 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H 4V8
- By fax: 604-439-4729
Please do not include any original documents, only photocopies.
Once your application has been processed, notification will be sent by mail.
Next step: Once you have sent in your application form and supporting documents, the next step is to notify us of any changes.
After you apply - notify us of any changes
Please remember to inform BC Housing immediately if:
- you move from the address provided on your application,
- your rent increases,
- your marital status changes,
- the number of people in your household changes, or
- if you are sharing your accommodation with other people.
By providing this information promptly, we can adjust your assistance accordingly to avoid any possible overpayment.
Approximately three and a half months before your subsidy ends, we'll mail you a reapplication form. If you choose to reapply, use the form to update your personal, household and rent information. You’ll also need to provide updated proof of monthly rent payments and proof of income.
To contact us call (604) 433-2218 or 1-800-257-7756 outside the Lower Mainland.
Assistance is paid by direct deposit on the last business day of each month.
Frequently asked questions
- What are the Maximum Rent Ceilings?
Effective April 2014 to August 2018
- Metro Vancouver
- Family of 3 or less - $1,055
- Family of 4 or more - $1,190
- Other Areas of the Province
- Family of 3 or less - $970
- Family of 4 or more - $1,015
Effective September 2018
- Zone 1
- Family of 3 or less - $1,108
- Family of 4 or more - $1,250
- Zone 2
- Family of 3 or less - $1,086
- Family of 4 or more - $1,136
- Zone 3
- Family of 3 or less - $1,067
- Family of 4 or more - $1,117
- Metro Vancouver
- What municipalities are included in each zone?
Zone 1: (Previously Metro Vancouver) Aldergrove, Anmore, Belcarra, Bowen Island, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Delta, Langley, Lions Bay, North Vancouver, Maple Ridge, Milner, New Westminster, Pitt Meadows, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Richmond, Surrey, Tsawwassen Vancouver, West Vancouver and White Rock.
Zone 2: Abbotsford, Agassiz, Central Saanich, Chase, Colwood, Dawson Creek, Esquimalt, Fort St. John, Highlands, Kamloops, Kelowna, Lake Country, Langford, Lantzville, Logan Lake, Metchosin, Mission, Nanaimo, New Songhees, North Saanich, Oak Bay, Peachland, Penticton, Prince George, Saanich, Saanichton, Sidney, Sooke, Squamish, Terrace, Union Bay, Victoria, View Royal, West Kelowna
Zone 3: All Other Areas of the Province
- What happens if my documents have been lost or stolen?
If any of your residency documents have been lost, stolen or destroyed you need to contact Citizenship and Immigration Canada or call 1-888-242-2100. You will need to download and fill out the application (IMM5545) and mail your completed application to the nearest Citizenship and Immigration Centre near you.
- How is my information used and protected?
BC Housing only collects information from applicants applying for the Rental Assistance Program in accordance with Section 26c of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the FOI Act). We do not disclose your information to other public bodies or individuals except as authorized by law. We keep the information only for the length of time necessary to fulfil the purpose(s) for which it was collected.
If you have questions about the collection or use of your information, please call 604-433-1711 and ask to speak to BC Housing’s FOI Officer or email to FOIPP@bchousing.org.
- What if I haven't filed an income tax return?
Filing an income tax return is a requirement of the program. If you or your spouse has not filed a tax return you will not be eligible
- I’ve filed my Tax Return, but Canada Revenue Agency hasn't processed it yet. Can I still submit my application?
Yes. Once your application has been received by BC Housing, you will have up to 90 days to gather and submit any missing information.
- Do I declare my rental assistance on my annual income tax return?
No. Rental assistance is a non-taxable rent benefit.
- Why should I provide consent for Canada Revenue Agency to release income tax records to BC Housing?
Providing consent is optional. If you choose to provide consent it will streamline the application and annual reapplication process as you will not need to gather and submit your income tax documents.
- Who is considered a dependent child?
Under the Rental Assistance Program, dependent status is considered when a child is:
- under 19 years of age;
- under 25 and registered in full-time school, university or vocational institute which provides a recognized diploma, certificate or degree;
- of any age who, because of mental or physical infirmity, is accepted as a dependent for income tax purposes.
- What if I have children 19 years or older living with me who are not considered dependent or I share with someone who is not part of my immediate family?
Depending on the number of adults living in the rental unit, a portion of the full monthly rent will be allocated to your household and this amount will be used when calculating assistance through the program.
- My minor child (under age 19) has a part-time job; do I need to declare their income?
No, the assistance through the program is based on the income of yourself and your spouse (if applicable).
- What counts towards the $100,000 asset ceiling?
- Real estate / property (within Canada or overseas)
- Stocks/ bonds/ term deposits/ mutual funds / shares
- Business equity - equity value in private incorporated company of cash, GIC’s bonds, stocks or real estate held by company
- What doesn't count towards the $100,000 asset ceiling?
- Registered Education Savings Plans(RESPs), Registered Retirement Savings Plans(RRSPs) and Registered Disability Savings
- Personal effects; e.g. vehicles, jewellery, furniture
- Trade and business tools essential to continue currently active employment; e.g. farm equipment, vehicle
- Asset Development Accounts; savings programs that are designed to assist individuals to achieve savings for the purposes of future self-sufficiency or future enhanced self-sufficiency. Such assets are excluded for the period that the applicant is participating in the asset development account program.
- Assets derived from compensatory packages from government (examples include: Indian Residential School Settlements and Japanese Canadian Redress)
- What happens if my income changes?
The assistance is based on your previous year’s income. Fluctuations throughout the year will be captured on your next income tax return and will be reflected in the amount you receive in the future. If your income has significantly and permanently gone down, please contact us to determine if you are eligible for an adjustment.
- What if my income was over the maximum income on my tax return, but I am currently unemployed or on maternity leave?
If you are collecting Employment Insurance (EI) or maternity payments, provide one of the following.
- A copy of your most recent Employment Insurance pay stub that shows your weekly benefit before taxes.
- A letter from Employment Insurance describing the amount of your Employment Insurance benefit, before taxes.
- What happens if I go on income assistance?
You must notify us immediately at 604-433-2218 or 1-800-257-7756 outside the Lower Mainland. Failure to advise BC Housing that you are receiving income assistance will result in a debt that will need to be repaid.
- What are the residency requirements?
The applicant and their spouse cannot be under private sponsorship, except where BC Housing has accepted that private sponsorship has broken down.
Applicants must permanently reside in British Columbia when applying, and each member of the household must be one of the following:
- Canadian citizen
- Individual lawfully admitted into Canada for permanent residence
- Refugee sponsored by the Government of Canada
- Individual who has applied for refugee status
- What if I need to change my bank information?
Please submit a new VOID cheque or equivalent. See Section B: Bank account information in Attach Supporting Documents.
- What if I do not have a bank account for direct deposit?
The assistance is only paid by direct deposit to your bank account. If you do not currently have a bank account, you will need to open one.
- Do I have to be off income assistance for any period of time before I can apply to the Rental Assistance Program?
There is no time limit for being off of income assistance before you are eligible to apply for the Rental Assistance Program. To be eligible and apply for rental assistance you will need to provide official documentation confirming the last day that you will receive an income assistance payment.
However, if you are receiving rental assistance and have to go back on Income Assistance you must notify us immediately at 604-433-2218 or 1-800-257-7756 outside the Lower Mainland.
If you receive any rental assistance payments while on income assistance your account will become suspended and any over payments will be owed to BC Housing and will need to be repaid.
- Why is there a minimum rent contribution?
As the Rental Assistance Program reimburses low-income, working families who already rent in the private market, it is reasonable to expect recipients to make a minimum contribution towards their rent.
- What happens if I move or my rent amount changes?
Please inform BC Housing immediately so that we can make the necessary changes to your file and adjust your assistance accordingly. If your rent has decreased you should contact BC Housing immediately to avoid over payments which you will be required to repay. If your rent has increased your assistance may increase if you are not already at the rent ceiling.
- How is the rental assistance subsidy calculated?
The Rental Assistance Program reimburses a percentage of the difference 30 percent of your gross household income and your rent, subject to the maximum rent ceilings.
- How is the rental assistance paid?
The assistance is only paid by direct deposit to your bank account. Deposits are made on the last working day of each month. You will need to provide us with a VOID cheque or a Preauthorized Debit Form from your bank. If you do not currently have a bank account, you will need to open one.
- How will I know the status of my Rental Assistance Program application?
BC Housing will contact you by mail.
- When will my rental assistance be effective?
As long as you are eligible, your assistance will be effective the month we receive your application in our office. For example, if your application is received in our office on March 29, your application will be effective the month of March. The Rental Assistance Program pays in arrears; the payment made at the end of March is reimbursement for rent paid for the month of March.
- If I begin to receive payments through the Rental Assistance Program will my application for subsidized housing be cancelled?
No. We encourage eligible families who have registered with The Housing Registry to apply to the Rental Assistance Program, as the Rental Assistance Program can provide some financial assistance while they are looking for more alternate housing.
If eligible for the program your application with The Housing Registry will remain active and will continue to be considered for units as they become available in the developments or areas selected. Once you receive a unit through The Housing Registry your rental assistance payments will stop.
- Why am I not eligible for rent assistance if I am on Income Assistance?
The Rental Assistance Program is a 'shelter' subsidy provided by the provincial government. Income Assistance is a government assistance that has a 'shelter' subsidy within it. You cannot receive two of the same form of subsidy from the government, so those receiving Income Assistance are not eligible until their income assistance has ended.
If it is necessary for you to go onto income assistance, you should receive your shelter portion from income assistance and not from the Rental Assistance Program.
Do you have a question? Talk to someone at Rental Assistance Program. Call 604-433-2218 or 1-800-257-7756.