If you are a residential Tenant or Landlord, you know there are a lot of rumours around about changes to rent and evictions during this crisis. Here are three hard facts:
- Tenants still need to pay rent.
- If Tenant’s don’t pay rent, Landlords cannot evict them during the COVID-19 crisis.
- When the crisis is over, Landlords will be able to evict Tenants again, including for unpaid rent during the crisis.
What does that mean? Landlords and Tenants need to communicate and work together to find a way to keep Tenants in their home now and avoid evictions in the future.
Let’s go through this in more detail…
- Tenants still have to pay rent
Tenants are still legally required to pay their rent. This has not changed. The Ontario Government has asked Landlords to consider the reality that Tenants who are asked to self-isolate or who can’t work during this crisis may have difficulty paying their rent. Landlords and Tenants are encouraged to talk to each other and find a fair solution that will keep Tenants in their homes with a plan for Landlords to be paid.
- What happens if Tenants don’t pay rent?
Normally, if a Tenant does not pay rent, a Landlord can go through a process to evict them. This process usually has 5 stages:
- NOTICE: The Landlord gives the Tenant a Notice of Eviction which gives the reason for the notice, for example, the Tenant has failed to pay their rent. The Tenant is usually given some time to fix the problem, for example, by paying rent.
- APPLICATION: If the Tenant does not fix the problem, the Landlord can bring an application to the Landlord and Tenant Board (“LTB”) to evict the Tenant. The LTB is a Tribunal that deals with disputes between Landlords and Tenants.
- HEARING: A hearing will be scheduled at the LTB where the Landlord and Tenant can each state their cases and have an LTB Board Member decide whether or not the Tenant will be evicted.
- ORDER: The Board Member will make a decision about the eviction in writing which will be sent to the Landlord and Tenant. If the Order is for the eviction of the Tenant, it will give a date by which the Tenant must move out.
- ENFORCEMENT: If the Tenant does not move out by the date on the Order, the Landlord can have the Order enforced through the Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff is allowed to change the locks to rental unit. After that, the Tenant has 72 hours to arrange to remove their property or the Sheriff may remove the property. Landlords are NOT allowed to enforce eviction orders on their own. They must go through the Sheriff’s Office.
Since the COVID-19 crisis, the Government of Ontario has changed the process to thwart a Landlord’s ability to properly evict a tenant right now.
- Can Tenants be evicted right now? In the future?
The evictions process during this crisis has temporarily changed. The goals of these changes are to protect Tenants who cannot pay rent from homelessness, and to protect the community by ensuring people have somewhere to stay so they can socially distance and help decrease the spread of COVID-19.
New Eviction Rules:
No new eviction orders related to unpaid rent will be issued until further notice. Sheriff’s offices will postpone any scheduled enforcement of eviction orders unless the grounds relate to serious illegal acts or safety concerns. In short, if a Tenant is just not paying rent, they cannot be evicted right now.
If Tenants do not pay rent now, Landlords can evict… later. Landlords can still give eviction notices. This means that, when this crisis ends, Landlords will be able to enforce eviction orders and pursue Tenants for unpaid rent during the crisis..
What does this mean?
The COVID-19 pandemic will be a financial crisis for many Residential Landlords and Tenants alike. Landlords and Tenants should communicate with each other and work to find a fair arrangement that keeps Tenants in their homes and allows for ultimate (even deferred) repayment for Landlords.
How? Tips and Resources:
For both Landlords and Tenants, a main concern right now is how to make sure you have enough money to meet your payment obligations. Like Tenants, Landlords have bills to pay too and often rely on income from rent to meet their obligations.
The Government of Ontario has recently announced some funding sources and other resources for both Landlords and Tenants. Please find some helpful tips and links below.
If you need financial help you can:
- contact your local service manager at the County of Renfrew at (613) 735-7288.
- apply for COVID-19 emergency assistance. An application portal is available through the following website: https://www.ontario.ca/page/ministry-children-community-and-social-services
The Emergency Response Benefit is in the process of being made available through an online portal. Further information is available at https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/introduces-canada-emergency-response-benefit-to-help-workers-and-businesses.html
- access federal government programs. More information about specific programs is available at https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html
- talk to your municipality about help with property taxes and municipal service fees. Information is available through the following websites:
- inquire with your mortgage lender about mortgage payment deferrals. Many of Canada’s big banks are offering deferment for up to 6 months during this crisis.
- investigate federal government programs. More information about specific programs is available at https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html
This is a confusing and scary time for everyone. If you are a Landlord or Tenant and have further questions about your legal obligations and rights, please feel free to contact Primeau Law at 613-584-4884 to schedule a free 30 minute consultation.