In light of COVID-19 and the financial impact that is starting to occur, we’ve had a number of questions from both Landlords and Tenants on how they should be responding to one another. Tenants are concerned about paying rent if they are off work and landlords are concerned about covering their financial obligations if rent isn’t received.
To help get through these unchartered times, we’ve put together the below recommendations gathered from both landlord and tenant groups. We will continue to update this page as things progress, so do feel free to message us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any tips to include.
Disclosure: Please remember we offer these tips based on suggestions we are seeing, you need to ensure you are getting the proper legal, financial or other advice for your own situation.
- Maintain emergency repairs of your property, but consider putting off non-emergency repairs to aid in social distancing
- Ask your tenants to keep you informed if they are in self-isolation due to travel or health symptoms
- In properties with shared spaces, if a tenant is isolating because they have contracted COVID-19 contact your local or Ontario health department for appropriate messaging and anything you may need to do (links below)
- Speak with your tenants openly. Some of them will have financial hardships and need understanding and compassion when it comes to paying rent
- Consider your tenants' history and be flexible where you can for those who may need it
- Avoid threats of evictions. Threats or excessive messaging will make anxiety worse for everyone and damage your relationship when this is over (and work against you if you have to go to the Landlord and Tenant Board later)
- Stay at home as much as possible
- Help with minor maintenance and repairs if you can
- If you need financial assistance, take advantage of government aid being provided (links below)
- Continue to pay your rent. While the government has announced that evictions are on hold, they have not said rent does not have to be paid or is being forgiven
- If you run into challenges paying rent, speak with your landlord. Pay what you can so your landlord can try to maintain their financial obligations as well. There is a misunderstanding that all mortgages are being deferred – this isn’t the case
- Make sure you understand legal implications if you chose not to pay your rent, particularly if you have the means to do so. While evictions have been halted temporarily and new hearings postponed, they will resume once this is over. If you chose not to pay your rent but could have, this could have implications on your credit, references, and reputation down the road
- Remember, if your landlord isn’t given relief and defaults on mortgage payments, in a worst-case scenario it could lead to the bank taking over their AND your home
At the end of the day, landlords and tenants need to work together. Everyone is in the same boat and trying to stay afloat in a world we never thought we would need to. Speak to one another openly and honestly. Threats of a rent payment strike for the sake of it or of eviction for failure to pay rent will make things worse for everyone when this pandemic is over.
Remember to manage your own mental and physical health. There will be both tenants and landlords who are going to be extremely strained by what is happening. Have compassion for one another and put each other’s health and well-being above all else.
If we can be of any assistance, don’t hesitate to contact us. We likely won’t have all the answers, but we will certainly help you find them.
Economic Response Plan Resources
- Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan website https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/canadas-covid-19-economic-response-plan-support-for-canadians-and-businesses.html
- Support for individuals and businesses https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html#individual
NOTE: the emergency care benefit form won’t be available until April, but those qualifying for regular Employment Insurance (EI), can apply here https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/ei-regular-benefit.html
Information surrounding COVID-19
- For a full list of prevention tips, please visit the Health Canada website.
- Ontario Ministry of Health https://www.ontario.ca/page/2019-novel-coronavirus#section-0
- Toronto Public Health https://www.toronto.ca/community-people/health-wellness-care/diseases-medications-vaccines/coronavirus/
- Public Health Agency of Canada https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.html
- World Health Organization (WHO) https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
- Centres for Disease Control (CDC) - United States https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
- Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/06r17
- Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) http://www.sjto.gov.on.ca/ltb/
- Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) http://www.sjto.gov.on.ca/hrto/