The Ontario government has announced that it intends to take action to protect commercial tenants from being locked out or having their assets seized by their landlords due to the negative impacts of COVID-19.
The proposed changes to the Commercial Tenancies Act would, if passed, temporarily halt evictions of businesses that are eligible for federal/provincial rent assistance. If passed, the legislation would reverse evictions that occurred on or after June 3, 2020. The government intends to bring this legislation forward as soon as possible.
In partnership with the federal government, Ontario is committing $241 million to the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses which is providing more than $900 million in support. CECRA for small businesses provides forgivable loans to eligible commercial landlords to help cover 50 per cent of commercial rent for tenants for the months of April, May and June 2020.
The tenant will be responsible for covering up to 25 per cent of rent, so that up to 75 per cent of the rent is covered. Tenants and landlords can learn how much they may be eligible for by visiting Ontario.ca/rentassistance.
“We need everyone working together to overcome COVID-19,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “Commercial tenants who can pay their rent, must do so. Landlords should work with their tenants to come to an agreement and use this joint program. Ontario’s small businesses are the backbone of our economy and we need them to flourish.”
If passed, the proposed legislation would make it illegal to evict a commercial tenant until August 31, 2020.
“Working with the federal government, we are providing more than $900 million in relief to tenants and landlords,” said Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance. “We’ve been clear we would support small businesses and today’s action does just that.”
“Ensuring the immediate future of our small businesses is critical to helping our economy recover and rebound,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. “A moratorium on commercial evictions will bring stability to our small businesses and the employees and families they support. Their success is Ontario’s success.”