With the COVID-19 crisis, and the resulting economic crisis, millions of Canadians have been laid off or are seeing their hours cut. This has created a situation where many tenants are unable to pay their rent.
What we know
The provincial government has announced that all evictions have been suspended for the foreseeable future “until ordered otherwise by the court [Ontario Superior Court].” The LTB will not issue any new eviction orders “until further notice.” Sheriff’s offices “have been asked” by the Province not to carry out outstanding eviction orders. Sheriffs in Hamilton have so far complied with this request. (March 19, 2020)
The provincial government has announced that all Landlord & Tenant Board in-person hearings are cancelled. LTB hearings will be rescheduled for a later in-person date or replaced with telephone or videoconference hearings. (March 13, 2020)
The federal government has announced a 6-month mortgage payment deferral (“mortgage holiday”) for property owners in partnership with the top six banks: Bank of Montreal, CIBC, National Bank of Canada, RBC Royal Bank, Scotiabank and TD Bank (March 17, 2020). Our landlords don’t have to pay their mortgages, so why should we have to pay our rents?
What should you do if you can’t pay rent?
There is a growing movement across Ontario (and beyond) calling for the cancellation of rent, the forgiveness of rent-related debt and a full moratorium on evictions for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. Here in Hamilton, this campaign is being coordinated by Keep Your Rent Hamilton. They are encouraging tenants to organize with their neighbours to prepare a collective defense against landlord harassment and any evictions resulting from non-payment of rent. An organized tenant movement will be in a better position to pressure landlords, the banks and politicians to cancel rent or issue some other form of rent forgiveness.
To get involved, check out their website [https://keepyourrenthamilton.com], join their facebook goup [https://www.facebook.com/groups/KeepYourRentHamilton/] or reach out to them by email [firstname.lastname@example.org] or by phone at 289-779-0758.
What should you do if you already haven’t paid rent? [Taken from Didn’t Pay Rent – Prepare for What Comes Next – Keep Your Rent Hamilton]
Didn’t pay your rent on the first of the month? It’s a good idea to prepare for your landlord’s response.
The Globe and Mail recently published an estimate suggesting that 30% of Canadian renters did not pay rent on April 1. That’s 3.6 million people. Most of these people didn’t withhold their rent in order to make a political statement. They didn’t act in coordination with their neighbours, and they are not on rent strike. They just couldn’t afford to pay, or they realized that they needed to prioritize their family’s needs over those of their landlord. But as the scale of the problem is coming into sharper focus, tenants across this country are starting to realize our collective power. We’re starting to get organized, to find our voice, and to use it to demand a cancellation of all rent payments throughout the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.
We can expect that landlords are going to try to weaken our collective power with divide and conquer tactics. They will try to deal with us one-on-one, relying on channels where they hold all the cards. N4s, private negotiations, repayment plans, threats and intimidation of individual tenants are ALL part of a divide and conquer strategy. We can’t be fooled into thinking that we can deal with this crisis as individual tenants, or on a case-by-case basis. This is exactly what our landlords want. We need to connect with our neighbours and insist on communicating as a group. Divided we are weak. Together we are strong.
Most tenants that have not (or cannot) pay rent are not in direct contact with one another. All of us need to make that contact happen.
What we can do now:
- Read the FAQs below to get informed and prepare for your landlord’s response.
- Check in with tenants you have already spoken to and find out: (a) who has not paid rent, (b) if tenants have received a response from the landlord and (c) if a collective response from tenants is needed.
- Ensure that tenants in your building or neighbourhood have each other’s phone numbers and are able to reach out if they need to. Encourage people to do this if they have concerns.
- Start Whatsapp or other chat groups for tenants in your building or add neighbours to groups that already exist to be able to stay in communication.
Get informed. Get organized with your neighbours. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t fall for your landlords tricks. Stand strong together.
Read the full article, including FAQ about common landlord responses (N4 notices, ‘rent reminder’ cards, offers to set up a payment plan, etc) here: http://keepyourrenthamilton.com/2020/04/11/didnt-pay-rent-prepare-for-what-comes-next/