Supports available for businesses and individuals to help with rent payment issues during COVID-19.
Commercial Rent Relief Programs
In October, 2020, the Government of Canada introduced the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS).
CERS picks up where the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program for small businesses left off. CECRA closed to new applications on September 30th, 2020. The deadline for previous applicants to opt-in to the July, August, and September extensions is October 30th, 2020.
- Direct, targeted, and accessible rent support to qualifying organizations, without the need to go through your landlord
- A subsidy for eligible fixed property expenses
- A new, additional Lockdown Support of 25 per cent for businesses affected by a public health order
Obligations Around Commercial Leases
If you aren't looking to continue operating at the present location, it's recommended to give notice to the landlord under the original terms and close down according to those terms.
If your lease still has 12 months to go, look at specific clauses within your lease and determine your options.
If you have more than 12 months to go, speak to your landlord and assess if there’s any room for flexibility. This article by Benchmark Law Corporation—"Covid-19 and Your Lease"—is a good summary of the legal obligations on both sites pertaining to commercial leases.
Other Sources of Financial Help
Alternatively, businesses can ease financial difficulty during the COVID-19 pandemic by applying for programs such as the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) and Canadian Emergency Business Account (CEBA). CEBA is a $25 billion program provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced, due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 virus.
Another program to consider is the B.C. Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grant Program.
The B.C. government introduced the BC Temporary Rental Supplement (BC-TRS) program to provide a temporary rent supplement to residential renters of up to $500 per month, paid directly to landlords. This program ended on August 31st, 2020.
The government also put in place a repayment framework to give renters until next summer to gradually pay back any unpaid rent while staying in their homes. Renters cannot be evicted for any unpaid rent between March 18th and August 17th unless they miss a payment on their repayment plan.
Renters in some parts of B.C. can receive emergency help for rent payments and one-time interest-free loans through the BC Rent Bank.
Rent Increase Freeze
The government extended the residential rent increase freeze, originally due to end on December 1st, 2020, until July 10th, 2021.
Rapid Housing Initiative
- Major Cities Stream: $500 million in immediate support for municipalities, based on metrics including the levels of homelessness and renters in severe housing need.
- Projects Stream: $500 million for projects based on applications from provinces, territories, municipalities, Indigenous governing bodies and organizations, and non-profit organizations. Applications will be accepted until December 31st, 2020.