The Manitoba government has placed a temporary ban on commercial evictions as part of an effort to drive increased participation in the federal-provincial cost-shared Canadian Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program, Finance Minister Scott Fielding announced June 26.
“We know this has been a tough time for many businesses and it should not be made worse through an eviction if a business does not have the ability to pay rent on time,” said Fielding. “It is our hope that this temporary measure will protect businesses, and at the same time spark increased participation in the federally and provincially cost-shared CECRA program.”
Many businesses have suffered significant losses with either forced closure or limited ability to operate normally. Many are struggling to meet lease obligations, prevent layoffs and manage drops in revenue due to COVID-related circumstances. The government’s action will temporarily ban evictions of commercial tenants during the pandemic if the landlords and tenants are eligible for CECRA but have not applied.
The federal government’s rent relief program has been set up to have landlords apply and work with their tenants to receive rent relief. Not all landlords eligible for this funding are applying, leaving tenants without an option to stay in their current leased commercial space. The CECRA program runs until August 31, 2020.
Manitoba has received only approximately 145 applications and has paid out $1.5 million of the $64 million available. The minister said it is hoped this measure will create an additional incentive for landlords and tenants to work together and apply to the CECRA, as well as keep businesses from closing or having to relocate during the pandemic.
The temporary measures have been introduced under The Emergency Measures Act and are consistent with initiatives in other provinces.
Some commercial property owners have balked at the CECRA program because they had already implemented rent relief programs for tenants before governments got involved, according to NAIOP, a national agency that represents office and industrial property owners.