Montreal

With rent due April 1, both Quebec tenants and landlords hope for relief

With much of Quebec's economy shut down to contain the spread of COVID-19, calls are growing to give tenants a reprieve on their April 1 rental payment.

COVID-19 presents new set of challenges for renters and property owners alike

The coronavirus crisis has put pressure on every part of the economy, but rent is still due for hundreds of thousands of Quebecers on April 1. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

With much of Quebec's economy shut down to contain the spread of COVID-19, both landlords and tenants are hoping for more help ahead of the April 1 rent deadline.

The Quebec rental board, the Régie du logement, has suspended all hearings and has put a moratorium on evictions and repossessions.

But tenants' advocates want concrete measures to ensure tenants aren't evicted as soon as the crisis subsides.

"We're very, very worried that once that lifts there could be a wave of evictions in the neighborhood," Amy Darwish, a community organizer with Comité d'Action de Parc-Extention, said on Daybreak.

Darwish said she has heard from a number of tenants concerned they will have "very little cushion" and be forced to choose between paying their rent and their groceries.

A Quebec petition calling for a moratorium on rent payments has garnered thousands of signatures.

"While corporations and property owners are getting support and relief, tenants are being stretched to the breaking point and ignored," the petition says.

There are 416,000 Quebecers renters in Quebec, according to Statistics Canada, and without a source of income, many don't have the savings to dip into to cover future rent payments.

But the federal government has announced financial measures that will help renters, including speeding up employment insurance pay-outs.

Hans Brouillette, the director of public affairs for CORPIQ, the largest association of landlords in Quebec, said landlords will be flexible when possible, but many face challenges of their own.

He wants the federal government and province to set aside funding to ensure rents are paid.

"People think landlords are all millionaires," he said. "We have landlords who lost their jobs too."

Rent is due tomorrow- April 1. We speak with a community organizer at Project Genesis and with CORPIQ. 14:25

Premier François Legault has urged landlords to be accommodating with tenants, given the upheaval, but has not announced any specific measures.

Québec Solidaire suggested the Legault government give tenants 30 days to pay their April rent.

The opposition party also called on Ottawa to waive interest on mortgage payments over the same period.

"Keeping an impossible deadline will plunge many families into debt or precariousness," said co-spokesperson Manon Massé.

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