A new coalition of commercial property owners across Canada is calling on provincial governments to provide direct supports to struggling small businesses, instead of blanket non-eviction measures. It says non-eviction rules punish landlords participating in the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program by making it harder to collect rent and pay bills to lenders, municipalities and utilities.
Members of the coalition say they intend to apply to the CECRA program to help their hardest hit tenants. It is calling on all provincial governments to join the governments of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nova Scotia, which have instituted direct payments of $5,000 to $6,000 to help struggling small businesses, as a measure that will help them meet their 25 per cent rental obligation under the CECRA. The coalition also called for changes to the federal government’s Property Owner Forgivable Loan Agreement under the CECRA that appears to claw back direct provincial government supports to small businesses.
“In comparison, blanket non-eviction measures only punish property owners who participate in the CECRA by drying up income from those tenants who can afford to pay their rent, while doing nothing to help struggling tenants pay their bills,” says the coalition in a statement. “This harms the ability of property owners to pay their mortgage, property taxes, maintenance and utility costs.
“At a time when all Canadians need to do their part and pull together to fight COVID-19, it has not been helpful to see tenants pitted against property owners. This discredits property owners’ efforts to work closely with small businesses, who are the lifeblood of the commercial real estate sector, in order to accommodate their needs through rent deferrals and abatement under CECRA,” says the coalition.
“If arbitrary measures like non-eviction measures are placed on property owners, making it harder for us to collect rent and pay our bills, then commercial lenders should also be required to show leniency when it comes time to collect mortgage payments,” says. “Far more preferable is direct support to small businesses, making it easier for tenants, commercial property owners and commercial lenders to reach accommodation by working together to adjust agreements.”
The coalition includes Sealink Properties, Molinaro Group, Beaux Properties and Britannia Properties in Ontario; Vista Properties and Groupe Harden in Quebec; Altus Group in B.C.; Macro Investments in P.E.I.; Capital Commercial Real Estate Services and UM Properties in Manitoba; Melcor Developments in Alberta and Saskatchewan; and Cameron Development Corp. in Alberta.