Posts Tagged ‘British Columbia’

Can a housing provider require disclosure of Henson trusts when considering rental assistance?

December 1st, 2017 by Elliot Fonarev

The Court of Appeal for British Columbia has just released a decision about asset verification for rental subsidy applicants who are beneficiaries of trusts. Though this decision is not binding in Ontario, it will be of interest to affordable housing providers here, as some of the same principles may apply.

The decision in S.A. v Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation (MVHC), helps shed light on the circumstances in which BC housing providers are allowed to request information about the contents or value of discretionary trusts (often called Henson trusts) when determining whether to grant or continue rental assistance. Henson trusts benefit disabled persons without affecting their ability to receive government benefits. Though the B.C. government does not consider Henson trusts as assets for the purpose of eligibility for disability assistance, the court said that MVHC was entitled to require the applicant provide information regarding a Henson trust when determining eligibility for a rental subsidy. In Ontario, Henson trusts are also not considered assets for determining eligibility for disability assistance under the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) Act, 1997. But if the Ontario courts are swayed by this case, housing providers could seek information about Henson trusts for their internal discretionary rental assistance programs. This could be an important source of data for housing providers to help make decisions about how to allocate discretionary funds and determine eligibility for internal and external rental assistance or Rent Geared to Income (RGI) programs.

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