Ontario Premier Doug Ford had some strong words for “greedy” commercial landlords who are not cooperating with small businesses that are financially struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Don’t force my hand,” Ford said on Tuesday, during the daily press conference at Queen’s Park.
“Nothing drives me more crazy than greedy landlords taking advantage of people and small business owners that are just trying to keep their head above water.”
The premier emphasized the joint provincial and federal government program offering $900 million in rent relief for small businesses and landlords.
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According to the province, to receive the loan, property owners will be required to reduce the rental costs of small business tenants for April to June 2020 by at least 75% and commit to a moratorium on evictions for three months.
Ford said he will assess the situation and “see how the landlords react” when the federal government rolls out the rent relief program next week.
“Don’t force my hand. Work things out because I’m trying to compromise here. We are giving you 75% of what you’re asking for,” Ford said.
So far, the premier has halted evictions for residential tenants during the pandemic, but not for commercial ones.
“I’m trying to be fair, but don’t push me. These big landlords are taking advantage of small companies that are struggling. I’m going to come down on them like they’ve never seen before.”
Ford added that the landlords must “cooperate” and that the situation will not be forever, but only for a few more months.
“Help people out, you have an obligation to do that as a landlord,” he added.
On April 24, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance, a rent relief program to help businesses who are struggling to pay their landlords.
Businesses paying less than $50,000 per month in rent and have temporarily closed or suffered a 70% drop in pre-coronavirus revenues, as well as non-profit organizations, will be eligible for the assistance program.