New bill in the works to stop commercial evictions in Ontario

Sep 24, 2020 | News

Jennifer Kozak

The Ontario government has put forward a new bill that, if passed, would freeze residential and small business rent next year.

The purpose of the Helping Tenants and Small Businesses Act is to provide financial relief for Ontario tenants and to protect small businesses.

“The crisis is far from over, and the threat of a second wave is real, as are the challenges it will bring. That’s why we need to take the necessary steps now to help families keep a roof over their heads, and small businesses keep their doors open,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said.

The bill will also propose an extension to the existing Commercial Tenancies Act to extend the ban on commercial evictions. There is no information at this time if the ban will extend to residential evictions.

With the government’s move, a lot of questions are being asked across the province, including in Toronto, on how it would work.

If the bill is successful, tenants and business owners who were evicted on Sept. 1, or after will be allowed to re-enter their units and returned any unsold goods.

“The Mayor is fully supportive of the province’s new bill to freeze rent for 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating impacts on people and has caused many to lose their full or partial income,” Lawvin Hadisi, press secretary for Toronto Mayor John Tory, said.

“Providing this form of relief for tenants will ensure that everyone is being taken care of during these challenging times and not having to worry about being evicted or increased costs,” Hadisi said.

Tory is hopeful, Hadisi said, that landlords will work with their tenants to ensure that they are housed during these challenging times. “He has made it clear that he will continue to advocate for tenants to ensure nobody will be evicted during the pandemic.”

Those living in rent-geared-to-income housing will also have their rent capped. This will allow people to get back on their feet after struggling financially throughout the pandemic.

Landlords will still need to provide a 90-day notice for a rent increase in January 2022.

“We know that families are continuing to be impacted by COVID-19. We know landlords have worked hard to be accommodating and have made sacrifices. We know that by continuing to work together, we will move past this extraordinary time and get Ontario back on track,” Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Steve Clark said, in a press release.

Commercial evictions ban in Ontario began on May 1, until Aug. 31. Extending the ban and freezing rent increase would allow Ontario to protect small businesses and help create jobs to rebuild the economy.

“Our government wants to stabilize rent for Ontario’s 1.7 million rental households for 2021 because this year is not like any other year,” Clark said in the press release.