Canada’s Plan to Help Tenants was announced as an economic stimulus plan to counteract the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Several provinces have pledged supplemental assistance to individuals and businesses.
At this time, the most robust rental assistance plan comes from British Columbia, where provincial lawmakers have agreed to provide a temporary rent supplement of up to $500 per month for tenants in need.
These payments will be paid directly to landlords, according to a statement from the Ministry of Housing and Municipal Affairs.
The new measure also bans evictions for nonpayment for the time being and places a freeze on rent increases. Landlords are allowed to close nonessential common areas where tenants may be exposed to the virus.
It appears that tenants can apply to the Ministry for the benefits, although details are still in the works as of the date of this post. Ongoing information likely will be published on the websites for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Residential Tenancies Branch.
According to a news report, at least six provinces are considering rent supplements similar to the B.C. model, and landlords should watch for announcements of these plans in the coming days. Look for information in local newspapers and on the website of your housing ministry.
Canada’s Economic Response Plan
Throughout the country, financial support is being offered to unemployed or ill tenants and to cash-strapped businesses. The federal government’s Economic Response Plan pledges over $82 billion dollars in support and helps to ensure tenants can pay rent.
That plan includes the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) which can provide $2,000 a month for up to 4 months to workers who do not have paid leave, sick workers, those who must care for a family member, and self-employed individuals.
Individual tenants also may qualify for childcare assistance and tax relief and may be eligible to defer student loan payments. Senior citizens will have greater flexibility to withdraw funds from retirement accounts.
The federal plan allows businesses to defer tax payments, including new balances as well as installments, until August 31, 2020, without accruing interest or penalties. For more details on these plans, click here.
The federal government also has established the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) to help businesses expand financing options. Business owners are directed to contact their bank for more information on BCAP programs.
Last week, Canada’s six largest banks announced they would offer financial relief for those impacted by the pandemic.
Bank of Montreal, CIBC, National Bank of Canada, RBC Royal Bank, Scotiabank, and TD Bank each have committed to work with personal and small business banking customers on a case-by-case basis to provide flexible solutions to challenges such as pay disruption due to COVID-19, childcare disruption due to school closures, or illness from COVID-19.
This support may include up to a six-month payment deferral for mortgages, and access to other credit lines. Contact the banks directly to discuss available options.
Be aware that interest still may accrue on outstanding balances.
Provincial governments have pledged funds to assist financially strapped or ill tenants. For instance, British Columbia is expanding on the federal government’s plan by providing emergency assistance funds for workers who become sick, paid leave options, childcare credits, student loan deferrals, and tax deferrals.
Ontario’s action plan provides $17 billion dollars in direct support of individuals and businesses, including unemployment benefits and tax deferrals, and significant assistance with utility bills.
Provincial government websites contain specific details of the assistance available, including links to apply for services. Watch local newspapers for updates.
To stop the spread of COVID-19, several provincial governments have halted evictions for nonpayment of rent. As of the date of this post, British Columbia, Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and the Northwest Territories have stopped issuing eviction orders for nonpayment of rent. Evictions can be obtained for emergency situations such as a threat to public health or significant property damage.
Most eviction bans will continue into April, except for New Brunswick, which is halting evictions until May 31. New Brunswick’s Residential Tenancies Branch is offering to reach out to tenants on the landlord’s behalf if a tenant is not paying rent and has not worked out a payment plan.
Saskatchewan is advising tenants they still owe rent during this period. In Prince Edward Island, where evictions currently are halted until April 6, tenants are being encouraged to contact their landlords and work out an installment plan or rent deferral.
Please be aware that this information is current as of the date of this post and may change throughout the month of April. CMHC has compiled a table of links to emergency orders by province.
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The information provided in this post is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.