Renters: What to Do If You Can’t Pay Rent Due to COVID-19

April 29, 2020

Your rent is an important expense, and it’s not something you can cut back on. What do you do if you can’t pay rent due to COVID-19?

As the ongoing efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 continues, many Canadians have lost their jobs while their workplaces remain closed and are relying on government support. These are unprecedented times, and a sudden layoff or loss of income can jeopardize your finances, and may leave you wondering how you will pay for necessities, like rent.

Surprisingly, 85% of Canadians were able to pay their rent for this month, according to the Canadian Federation of Apartment Associations. Although this is positive news, the future is uncertain and everyone’s situation is unique. Federal assistance is being offered to more Canadians through changes to EI wait periods, topped up GST credits and the newly minted CERB to help Canadians make ends meet during these uncertain times. If you’re a renter facing financial challenges, you can find peace of mind knowing that many provincial governments across Canada have introduced legislation that protects you from being evicted if you can’t pay your rent right now.

What to Do If You Can’t Pay Rent Due to COVID-19

Provincial governments have legislated that you cannot be evicted if you can’t pay rent due to COVID-19. Here’s what you should do if you are unable to pay rent:

Negotiate with Your Landlord

When facing financial hardship due to COVID-19, landlords may be forgiving. If you cannot pay your rent due to COVID-19, go to your landlord to discuss a deferral or rent reduction. Your landlord cannot charge fees or penalties for late rent payments.

A rent deferral can help ease your financial burden. When you signed your lease agreement, you were likely asked to pay first and last month’s rent upfront. Ask your landlord if you can apply your last month rent payment to this month instead to tide you over. Be sure to have everything in writing to protect yourself from eviction and remind your landlord that a rent deferral has been agreed upon.

Landlords may accommodate their tenants in terms of rent relief, even though they are under financial stress. Some landlords help tenants on a case-by-case basis through deferrals and repayment plans.

What Provincial Governments Are Doing to Help

British Columbia

The provincial government of British Columbia has offered a Temporary Rental Supplement that provides up to $500 a month. If you experience a sudden loss of income, you get a one-time payment of $1,000 from the Emergency Benefit for Workers.

Alberta

Landlords in the province of Alberta cannot raise your rent or evict you for non-payment.

Saskatchewan

There has been a freeze on eviction hearings and landlords cannot force a tenant out for not paying rent please visit the COVID-19 Resource Centre.

Manitoba

Although income supplement is offered, the provincial government has frozen rent increases and renters cannot be evicted for non-payment until May 31, 2020.

Ontario

Although the Ontario government hasn’t offered any financial support to renters, you cannot be evicted from your apartment if you can’t pay rent during this time. Landlords also cannot raise your rent.

Quebec

The Quebec government is also offering temporary aid of $573 per week for two weeks to those with COVID-19 symptoms.

Nova Scotia

A three-month ban on evictions is in effect. The provincial government has offered a COVID-19 Rent Deferral Support Program to commercial landlords who have deferred rent to small businesses. This program indemnifies the landlord for the losses due to the rent deferral.

New Brunswick

The right of landlords to evict tenants for not paying rent has been suspended until May 31.

Prince Edward Island

The landlord will be compensated $250 a month for every tenant who cannot pay rent through the Temporary Rental Assistance Benefit program. As renters, you are eligible to receive $1,000 per household for three months. You will receive $500 on the first month and $250 the following two months.

Newfoundland and Labrador

The government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced that renters cannot be evicted if they’re unable to pay rent because of lost income due to COVID-19.

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