Landlords in B.C. who are eligible for emergency federal rent relief and choose not to apply will not be able to evict businesses that aren’t able to pay rent, B.C. Finance Minister Carole James announced Monday.
James said the emergency order is meant to protect small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic and to encourage landlords to apply for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance, which aims to reduce rent owed by small business tenants by 75 per cent for April, May and June.
The federal government opened applications last week for the program, which provides non-repayable loans to commercial property rent owners to cover 50 per cent of the monthly cost.
The loans are forgiven if the landlord cuts rents by at least 75 per cent for those three months and promises not to evict the tenant. The tenant must cover up to 25 per cent of the rent.
James said there are landlords who have not applied for the relief, making the program unavailable to their small-business tenants.
“We’re listening to small businesses and taking actions to strengthen the federal commercial rent program,” James said.
The order restricts lease terminations, rent-repayment lawsuits, and repossession of goods and properties, and will stay in place until the end of June, when the federal relief program is currently set to end.
The B.C. government will consider extending the protection if the federal government pushes commercial rent relief past June.
Public input for 2021 budget
The announcement is the latest step in the province’s $5-billion economic relief plan.
The plan set aside $2.8 billion to immediately help people pay bills, including a one-time payment of $1,000 to people out of work, as well as to fund services such as health care.
The other $2.2 billion was allocated as relief for businesses and their recovery after the pandemic.
The province is also asking the public for input on its 2021 budget. It’s accepting written, audio and video submissions online until June 26.
Public hearings will be held starting Monday over video and teleconference.
The province will release its recommendations for the next provincial budget in August.