Quebec’s largest rental housing association plans to survey its membership early next week to get a fuller picture of the financial stress small apartment building owners may be facing due to COVID-19. CORPIQ (Corporation des propriétaires immobiliers du Québec) has also released a flurry of messages on social media and through other channels to frame issues around rent payment for the public, the Quebec government and landlords themselves.
“It is important to talk to your tenants to inquire about their health, their family context and to show empathy, while at the same time reminding them about their obligations,” a recent communique to CORPIQ members advises. “Ask them if they are registered for government assistance, and don’t hesitate to provide them with information about the types of programs they are eligible for. Many people are simply afraid of this situation and want to keep some money to maintain a safety cushion. This is why it is important to reassure them to this effect and to be well aware of the assistance available to them.”
The association has developed a series of letters that landlords can deliver to tenants who have failed to pay rent — offering options defined as a “range from a conciliatory approach to more firm communication, depending on the context”. It’s also preparing an instructional video on payment agreements, which set out conditions for tenants to defer rent and a schedule for full payment.
For landlords with apartments to let, CORPIQ suggests virtual tours, which can be enabled through various apps for smartphones or tablets, rather than conventional on-site visits from prospective renters. “Visits are still permitted. They are, however, not recommended,” a communique on the association’s website states.
In cases where a prospective tenant would be visiting a unit that the outgoing tenant is still occupying, landlords are urged to heed sitting tenants’ wishes if they do not want apartment seekers entering their living space. If on-site visits do proceed, CORPIQ recommends landlords strictly limit the number of people in attendance and the duration of the viewing. Visitors must first wash or sanitize their hands and be instructed not to touch anything in the unit and to keep an appropriate distance from others. Visits must not be allowed if either apartment seekers or current unit occupants are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19.
CORPIQ also outlines the permitted steps for signing leases remotely:
- The landlord sends the completed lease without his/her signature to the tenant via email
- The tenant signs this lease by hand
- The tenant scans the lease and returns it to the landlord by email.
- The landlord adds his/her handwritten signature
- Then returns a copy of the lease, signed by both parties, to the tenant.