The first of the month is just around the corner. May 1 is going to be another challenging time for rental property owners and residents alike as we settle into the new normal of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ontario declared a state of emergency about six weeks ago, prompting thousands of businesses to shut down, some of them permanently. More than 400,000 Ontario residents lost their jobs in March alone; that number is likely to have climbed higher in April.
A survey conducted by FRPO shows that small rental property owners were hit disproportionally hard by April 2020 rent defaults spurred by COVID-19 job losses. But many residents whose incomes were lost or reduced due to the pandemic were able to pay their April rent because of savings, or because they were paid for work performed prior to the shutdowns. As May approaches, that may not be the case, meaning May 1 could certainly be even more difficult for rental property owners and residents, who may still be waiting on government assistance cheques if they qualify for them. And it’s again expected that small rental property owners will be hit hardest by their residents’ loss of income.
Our plea to all residents is to pay your rent if you can. If not, reach out to your rental property managers and discuss a fair arrangement for both of you. As one small Toronto rental property owner told Toronto Life magazine: “If tenants need extra time, just ask.”
In the meantime, rental property managers across the province are going to great lengths to ensure their residents have safe, secure and sanitary housing. Some small rental property owners have even dipped into their own savings or run up their lines of credit to ensure their residents can stay put.
Rental housing providers are deferring payments and rent increases, waiving late fees, and providing interest-free support to residents who cannot pay their rent on time.
Other bigger rental property owners are putting together protective packages for site teams across the province. They’re donating to Habitat for Humanity. Some are holding contests and awarding $100 in groceries to the winners, and publicly thanking generous residents who are making face masks for cleaning staff and neighbours at their buildings.
It’s been said repeatedly but it’s worth saying again: We are all in this together. With Ontario announcing some measures this week to slowly and carefully reopen the province, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully May 1 may mark the beginning of the end of the total shutdown of the province’s economy, and we’re inching towards normalcy. In the meantime, let’s continue to watch out for each other and to keep the lines of communication between rental property owners and residents open.