Landlords Encouraged to Participate in Program
THUNDER BAY – UPDATED – In June, the Ontario government passed the Protecting Small Business Act, temporarily halting or reversing evictions of commercial tenants and protecting them from being locked out or having their assets seized during COVID-19.
Scott Blodgett, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Finance tells NetNewsLedger, “We have heard from both commercial landlords and tenants about challenges they are experiencing – tenants’ businesses closed or experiencing significant drop in revenues.
“Non-payment of commercial rent poses a financial hardship for both the tenant and the landlord, creating risks of eviction and mortgage defaults. Ontario is pleased to partner with the federal government to support small businesses and their landlords through commercial rent assistance.
“Ontario has committed $241.2 million through the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses.
“The total amount of provincial-federal relief committed is more than $900 million, helping small businesses reopen their doors as Ontario restarts its economy.
“Ontario understands that some small businesses are concerned that their landlords do no want to participate in the program, and we continue to strongly encourage commercial landlords to apply for the program, by demonstrating that it is in their own best interest to do so.
“As additional support, on June 17, 2020, Ontario passed the Protecting Small Business Act, 2020 to pause commercial evictions until August 31, 2020.
“The government continues to monitor and assess the effectiveness of CECRA for small businesses to determine if any additional action may be necessary.
“That is why Ontario worked with the federal government to provide further rent assistance for the months of July and August to small businesses that continue to suffer financial hardship as a result of COVID-19.
“We understand that there could be tenants whose landlords will not apply for the CECRA program, so as part of Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19, the government ha implemented a series of direct supports amounting to $10 billion to help support jobs and the economy, including:
o Doubling the Employer Health Tax exemption for 2020, cutting taxes by $355 million, benefiting roughly 57,000 employers;
o Eliminating penalties and interest to businesses that miss filing or remittance deadlines for various provincially administered taxes for five months starting April 1, 2020, providing up to $6 billion in cash flow for about 100,000 Ontario businesses;
o Postponing the planned property tax reassessment for 2021;
o Deferring the quarterly (June 30) remittance of education property tax to school boards by 90 days, providing municipalities with the flexibility to, in turn, provide property tax deferrals of over $1.8 billion to local residents and businesses; and,
o Implementing the new Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit for businesses that make eligible capital investments in designated regions of the province where employment growth has significantly lagged behind below the provincial average.
We should also add that on July 31, the Ontario government, in partnership with the federal government, extended the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses by one month to help eligible small business that continue to suffer financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 pay rent for August.
Support covers April, May, June, July, and August 2020.
Existing applicants need to reapply for the month of August and have until September 14, 2020 to do so.
New applicants have the choice of applying for the three-month initial period, four months or five months, but need to do so by the original date of August 31, 2020.
The legislation applies to businesses that are eligible for federal/provincial rent assistance for evictions from May 1, 2020, until August 31, 2020. The last deadline for landlords to apply for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program is August 13, 2020.
- Tenants and landlords can learn who is eligible and how to apply at Ontario.ca/rentassistance. The application deadline is August 31, 2020.
“We know COVID-19 has had a significant impact on small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “This legislation will allow us to protect small businesses and help them get back on their feet so they can continue to create jobs and participate in the rebuilding of the provincial economy.”
Landlords and tenants are encouraged to participate in the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses. The pause on evictions does not apply to those participating in CECRA for small businesses, as the program requires landlords to enter into a rent reduction agreement with their impacted small business tenants and commits them to a moratorium on evictions for three months.
There have been some issues across the province, and in the City of Thunder Bay with landlords refusing to apply to the CECRA. While it is not law requiring landlords to apply, it is just simple common sense for businesses and tenants working together toward common solutions.
“Pausing evictions of commercial tenants is another way we are supporting small businesses and providing much-needed relief as we work to reopen the economy,” said Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance and Chair of the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee. “Working with the federal government, we are providing more than $900 million in relief to tenants and landlords in Ontario through the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance for small businesses.”
During the non-enforcement period landlords are also prohibited from exercising a re-entry right, and if a landlord exercised a right of re-entry on or after May 1, 2020, possession must be returned to the tenant. If possession can’t be returned to the tenant, the landlord must compensate the tenant for all damages sustained by the tenant by reason of the inability to restore possession.
Landlords are also prohibited from seizing any goods or chattels as a distress for arrears of rent, and if the landlord seized any goods or chattels as distress for arrears of rent on or after May 1, 2020, any unsold goods and chattels must be returned to the tenant.
Any landlord who fails to comply with these requirements is liable to the tenant for any damages sustained by the person as a result of the contravention or non-compliance.
It’s important to remember that these restrictions only apply to those landlords eligible to receive the CECRA, or who would be eligible to receive the CECRA if a rent reduction agreement was entered into. Other commercial tenancy arrangements remain unaffected. (source: www.siskinds.com)