As April 1 draws near, the province is encouraging landlords and tenants to work together through the COVID-19 crisis to establish fair arrangements to keep tenants in their homes.
However, in response to the outbreak that has seen an unprecedented number of layoffs across the province, the government has made temporary changes to residential rules and processes.
Most notably, changes include no new eviction orders will be issued until further notice. Furthermore, sheriff’s offices will postpone any scheduled enforcement of current eviction orders.
“Landlords are entitled to collect compensation from a tenant for each day an eviction order is not enforced, and tenants should still pay rent,” said the province on its website. “However, tenants who are asked to self-isolate or who can’t work may have difficulty affording their rent.
“We encourage landlords and tenants to work together. If your tenant is having challenges making rent, talk to them about deferring their rent or other payment arrangements.”
Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath is calling for an 80 per cent rent subsidy to get through the COVID-19 pandemic, and make it to the other side of the crisis without the crushing debt of months of unpaid rent behind them.
“For many people in our province, the rent is due this week and they have no way to pay it,” said Horwath. “This public health crisis is also an economic crisis, and renters who usually don’t have much wiggle room at the end of the month are vulnerable. The province needs to have the backs of folks who have lost their jobs or lost income as a result of the pandemic.”
For households experiencing unemployment or lost income as a result of COVID-19, the NDP is proposing the government subsidize 80 per cent of the household’s monthly rent, up to $2,500 per home, per month, for up to four months. The funds should go directly to renters, and arrive as quickly as possible, said Horwath. The same payments should be accessible to help small- and medium-sized businesses with their leases.
The NDP also said renters need more protection from evictions. Horwath said there should be a legal ban on evictions, lockouts and disconnections — including business tenants — for four months, and a legal ban on threatening to evict or disconnect a tenant’s utilities.
Horwath also said rent prices should stay put for six months, with a provincial freeze, along with a federal ban on mortgage foreclosures, so people have protection as they’re getting back on their feet after the pandemic has passed.
“Deferring rent for months could put tenants, and some landlords, into crisis,” said Horwath. “But together, we can get through this if the province steps up to do its part. It’s time to give people the help they need so that we can guarantee no one in Ontario will lose their home as a result of this pandemic.”