March 31st, 2020
Toronto – The provincial government needs to provide support for tenants who are unable to pay their rent tomorrow, April 1st, due to lost income because of the COVID – 19 crisis. While Premier Ford took a good first step by freezing eviction orders during the course of the pandemic, renters and Landlords are in need of clarity and surety from the province regarding what they can expect tomorrow to ensure that they are not in financial ruin when the crisis is over.
“Tenants are answering the government’s call to stay home to help limit the spread of COVID -19. It’s only reasonable that the government provides a realistic plan to ensure that renters can afford to do their part,” said Councillor Josh Matlow, Toronto – St. Paul’s.
To support tenants and provide surety to Landlords, the Premier must provide a clear strategy that includes:
- Rent forgiveness for vulnerable tenants: Offset payments for Landlords to forgive rent for tenants who now qualify for federal income supports. Deferrals could lead to mass evictions and financial ruin when the COVID – 19 crisis is over. The provincial government in British Colombia has taken a similar approach.
- Ban eviction notices: while eviction orders have been suspended, landlords are still allowed to file eviction notices and are “entitled to collect compensation from a tenant for each day an eviction order is not enforced,” according to this recently posted provincial webpage COVID -19: information for Landlords. If allowed to continue, this measure will leave a threat of eviction over the heads of tenants; exacerbating a public health and financial crisis.
Premier Ford announced, “If you can’t pay rent, and you’re in a crisis, you don’t have to pay rent”, at a recent press conference, leading to confusion amongst tenants and Landlords alike. Moreover, the province’s formal advice for tenants to “speak to your landlord about whether (rent) can be postponed or if other payment arrangements can be agreed to,” has not proven effective. Far too many Landlords are still demanding full rent payments tomorrow.
The province must come forward with a plan to support tenants now.