By JEREMY APPEL on March 27, 2020.
A local landlord says she will work with tenants unable to pay their upcoming rent as a result of the COVID-19 crisis to find a flexible solution.
The federal government announced Wednesday up to $2,000 in monthly subsidies for individuals who are unable to work at this time, but the funds may not make it to tenants whose rent is due next week.
The Saskatchewan government said Thursday it will suspend evictions for missed or late rent, while British Columbia’s did the same the previous day.
Angela, whose last name the News is withholding to avoid any potential conflict with her day job in finance, owns two rental properties, as well as her own residence, in the Hat.
She says smaller, independent landlords in particular need their rent income to pay their mortgages and are finding themselves in the same position right now as their renters.
“This situation requires mutual respect, understanding and patience by everybody, but we all have legal obligations,” said Angela. “Tenants have a legal obligation to pay their rent. Mortgage holders have a legal obligation to pay their mortgage.
“In a crisis like this, we need to all work together, so landlords need to flexible with their tenants and mortgage companies need to be flexible with their borrowers.”
She criticized the “confrontational approach” and “belligerent attitude” of those calling on tenants to cease paying their rent.
Although mortgage deferral is an option, with the six major Canadian banks agreeing last week to a deferral for up to six months, Angela said it doesn’t let property owners off the hook.
“Mortgage deferrals are not skipped payments. They go on to the back of the payments and you have to pay double interest – interest on the interest that accrues on that deferred payment for the life of the mortgage,” Angela says.
“I still have to make my payment. Maybe not today, but at some point in the future and with increased cost.”
The banks are swamped with calls inquiring about deferrals, so it’s been impossible to get in touch with them to provide clarity, she added.
She says she will work with any renters who are out of work to find a mutually-beneficial arrangement, ruling out passing the deferred mortgage costs onto them.
“I certainly wouldn’t charge my tenants a fee because of this situation … We can work out a payment schedule, sit down with a calculator and piece of paper, and figure it out,” said Angela.
“As an individual landlord with a couple of rental properties, absolutely, I’m human. I’m going to extend as much human compassion as I can. We’re all in this together. If we all stick together, that’s the good side of humanity.”
Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes, who owns 26 rental properties in Medicine Hat, Brooks, Edmonton, Maple Creek, St. Paul and Barrhead, said in an emailed statement that his employees “will work with all tenants on an individual basis to ensure their housing needs and financial difficulties are met.”
“I am concerned about how the COVID-19 is affecting all Albertans, including tenants, landlords, employees, employers, our youth and seniors,” said Barnes.