BC businesses eligible for rent support from the federal government will be protected from evictions in a new order under the Emergency Program Act (EPA), the provincial government announced on Monday.
“The federal launch of the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program has been a welcome step in BC, but we heard from small businesses that they need us to help fill a gap that has left some of them unable to get the support they need,” said Carole James, Minister of Finance, during a press conference.
James announced that now, eligible businesses whose landlords choose not to apply for the federal CECRA program will be protected from evictions due to unpaid rent payments through to the end of June 2020, as determined by the federal program timelines. The order also restricts the termination of lease agreements and the repossession of goods and property.
Launched on May 24, the CECRA program was designed by the federal government and is delivered by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
As determined by the federal government, qualifying commercial tenants are those who have seen a 70% reduction in their revenue, have rent under $50,000 a month, and generate no more than $20 million in gross annual revenues.
A 75% reduction in monthly rent for small businesses affected by COVID-19 is achieved by providing forgivable loans to landlords. The loans cover 50% of the rent payments for eligible small business tenants for April, May and June. The commercial tenant is responsible for covering 25%, the property owner 25%, while the federal and provincial governments share the remaining 50%.
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The province said the CECRA program provides relief for small businesses experiencing severe financial hardship due to COVID-19. It offers forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners to reduce the rent owed by their impacted small business tenants and to meet operating expenses on commercial properties.
Property owners must offer a minimum of a 75% rent reduction for the months of April, May and June 2020. The CECRA loans to landlords will be forgiven if the landlord complies with program terms and conditions, including an agreement to not recover forgiven rent amounts when the program is over.
The emergency order restricting evictions is effective immediately, as well, James said.
“We’re listening to small businesses and have their backs,” said James. “Preventing landlords who are eligible for CECRA from evicting tenants can encourage landlords to apply for the program and give some temporary relief to businesses who have been hardest hit by the pandemic.”
According to the province, this latest measure also aims to put BC businesses in a stronger position to participate in the Province’s restart and recovery plan.