Small business and non-profit tenants in British Columbia that would theoretically qualify for Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) cannot be evicted before the end of June, even if their landlords have not enrolled in the relief program. The B.C. government has issued an order under the provincial Emergency Program Act to prohibit CECRA-eligible landlords from terminating lease agreements or taking possession of tenants’ goods and properties related to non-payment during the period the program has been designed to cover.
“Preventing landlords who are eligible for CECRA from evicting tenants can encourage landlords to apply for the program and give some temporary relief to businesses who have been hardest hit by the pandemic,” Carole James, B.C.’s Minister of Finance said as she announced the order.
The move is in step with one of three recommendations the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is promoting to support businesses dealing with COVID-19-triggered financial stress. In addition to a temporary moratorium on evictions, the organization urges governments to provide tenants with direct access to their share of the funds in cases where their landlord has not applied, and calls for a simplified application process.
“I can’t emphasize strongly enough how important it is to fix CECRA and put in place a decent safety net for tenants whose landlords won’t use it,” CFIB executive vice president Laura Jones asserts. “Rent relief is a mess that needs a major clean-up. Workable rent relief is make-or-break for over half of the small businesses we surveyed, and governments need to make this a top priority.”