Evictions are paused for all tenants who can’t make rent during the pandemic, according to documents two MLAs shared on social media on Saturday.
The documents show a temporary change that will allow renters to defer rent until they’re able to pay, according to screen shots shared by Inuvik Twin Lakes MLA Lesa Semmler and Frame Lake MLA Kevin O’Reilly.
Under the change, renters can’t be evicted as long as they provide written notice to their landlords. The changes were signed by health minister Diane Thom on April 9, according to the documents.
“Better late than never,” O’Reilly wrote about the changes.
Last month, he said relief could be offered to renters through a grant program or tax deferrals. He also suggested loans for landlords, or backing tenants who can’t make payments.
Semmler echoed those calls on social media.
“While this is helpful, there is still no financial assistance for tenants or small landlords,” Semmler wrote about the changes.
The changes come weeks after regular MLAs passed a request for the territorial government to pause evictions and give financial relief to tenants and small landlords.
How it works
Tenants who’ve lost work and income as result of the crisis must provide written notice to their landlords. They may also have to provide evidence, if the landlord requests it.
Further, the notice should explain why they’re unable to make rent, and how the tenant plans to pay rent later.
Once they’ve receiving that notice, landlords can’t apply for eviction for non-payment of rent. They can still apply to evict a tenant for other reasons, like damaging their unit or disturbing their neighbours.
This also includes failing to meet an obligation in the tenant’s agreement with the landlord, or if the agreement can’t be carried out. Tenants can also be evicted if they impair the safety of the landlord or other tenants.
That said, the territorial government hasn’t been carrying out evictions before the recent changes, according to an April 3 statement from an unnamed GNWT spokesperson.
That statement said the the Sheriff’s Office wasn’t evicting tenants for “failure to pay rent until the public service of the Government of the Northwest Territories resumes regular operations after the current public health emergency has sufficiently subsided.
“We would caution that there could still be evictions where a tenant’s conduct has been determined to present a danger to other persons or property, but they would be a rare occurrence,” the unnamed spokesperson added.
According to the documents MLAs shared, the government expects tenants to pay rent as soon as they’re able. Payment is required as soon as the regulation is appealed.
“There is uncertainty around how long the impacts of Covid-19 will require this protection to be in place,” the documents said. “(B)ut the situation is being closely monitored and any further changes and the eventual repeal of these protections will be publicly communicated.”