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COVID-19: Tenant rights, evictions and rent

During this unprecedented time, the rules, relief available and government statements are ever changing. And they’re changing because of the various impacts COVID-19 is having on how and if we can work and how we live. As such, the information below regarding rent payments and evictions in the residential context may change.

I strongly suggest that you keep yourself updated by visiting reliable sources such as your province’s landlord and tenant board and the official websites of your local and provincial governments. It is also important to note that the below relates to Ontario, as other provinces such British Columbia have halted all evictions and rent increases.

Can a landlord evict anyone during the COVID-19 declaration of emergency? 

Generally, a landlord cannot evict a tenant for non-payment of rent during the COVID-19 declaration of emergency. This is because a landlord must obtain an order from the Landlord and Tenant Board before they can evict a tenant for non-payment. However, as of March 19, the Landlord and Tenant Board has suspended issuing new eviction orders. This means no hearings related to eviction applications and no eviction orders will be conducted or issued, unless the matter relates to an urgent issue such as an illegal act or serious impairment of safety.

Does a tenant have to pay rent?

If the tenant is still employed or is obtaining relief payment or is able to pay rent, they still have to pay rent. Premier Ford and Mayor Tory have stated that if a tenant has to choose between paying for food and paying for rent because they no longer have the funds to pay for both, then they will not have to pay rent. No further rules or direction have been provided by any governing bodies. There are no rules regarding whether or not a tenant must prove that they have no income before they stop paying rent. It is up to the landlord and tenant to negotiate any rent relief and it’s strongly urged that any negotiations are concluded in writing. It must be made clear as to when and if the deferred rent payments are to be repaid.

If a tenant stops paying rent, can the landlord issue a Notice to End your Tenancy for Non-payment of Rent (N4)?

It is likely that a landlord can issue an N4 and file for a hearing as applications are still being processed. It is our suggestion that your landlord obtain legal advice.

Will my application for eviction be scheduled?

In Ontario, hearings related to eviction applications will not be scheduled at this time. However all incoming applications will continue to be processed. You can still process your application, but a hearing will not be scheduled until further notice. Hearings for matters not relating to evictions (such as illegal acts) will proceed by the most appropriate means (telephone or written hearing) and orders for these matters will be issued.

Will my application regarding my tenant rights be scheduled?

As mentioned above, in Ontario, hearings related to eviction applications will not be scheduled at this time but incoming applications will continue to be processed. Hearings for matters not relating to evictions (such as landlord has illegally entered the unit) will proceed by the most appropriate means (telephone or written hearing) and orders for these matters will be issued.

Can a tenant get a rent subsidy?

The federal government has proposed various forms of support. While no “rent subsidy” is offered, various other forms of income and tax relief have been provided.

Can a landlord get a rent subsidy?

Rent subsidies are province dependent. British Columbia and Alberta are offering rent subsidies while others are providing other forms of relief. The federal government has not provided any specific rent subsidies but has proposed various forms of support.

Should I obtain mortgage relief?

Some lenders are offering various types of mortgage relief. We ask that you carefully review these mortgage relief offers as these offers are highly complex and can result in unforeseen expenses. Note that you may also not qualify for mortgage relief as it is dependent on your personal circumstances.

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