NDP Leader lays out plan for 80% rent support, eviction ban, six-month rent freeze
QUEEN’S PARK — Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath believes people need an 80 per cent rent subsidy to get through the COVID-19 pandemic, and make it to the other side of the crisis without the crushing debt of months of unpaid rent behind them.
“For many people in our province, the rent is due this week and they have no way to pay it,” said Horwath. “This public health crisis is also an economic crisis, and renters who usually don’t have much wiggle room at the end of the month are vulnerable. The province needs to have the backs of folks who have lost their jobs or lost income as a result of the pandemic.”
For households experiencing unemployment or lost income as a result of COVID-19, the NDP is proposing the government subsidize 80 per cent of the household’s monthly rent, up to $2,500 per home, per month, for up to four months. The funds should go directly to renters, and arrive as quickly as possible, said Horwath. The same payments should be accessible to help small and medium-sized businesses with their leases.
The NDP also believes renters need more protection from evictions. Horwath said there should be a legal ban on evictions, lockouts and disconnections — including business tenants — for four months, and a legal ban on threatening to evict or disconnect a tenant’s utilities.
Horwath also said rent prices should stay put for six months, with a provincial freeze, along with a federal ban on mortgage foreclosures, so people have protection as they’re getting back on their feet after the pandemic has passed.
“Deferring rent for months could put tenants, and some landlords, into crisis,” said Horwath. “But together, we can get through this if the province steps up to do its part. It’s time to give people the help they need so that we can guarantee no one in Ontario will lose their home as a result of this pandemic.”
Ban on evictions or disconnections
The NDP is calling for a legislated provincial moratorium on evictions, lockouts or disconnections of tenants for the next four months, backed by law.
The legislation should include commercial leases for small and medium-sized businesses.
The NDP is calling for the legislation to make it illegal for any landlord to attempt or to threaten tenants with eviction or utility shut-off.
This would be achieved through legislation or amendments to the Residential Tenancies and Commercial Tenancies Acts. Penalties under the Act are currently punished by a fine of $25,000.
The NDP is also calling for a federal moratorium on mortgage foreclosures.
80 per cent rent subsidy
The NDP is calling for a provincially-funded rent subsidy of 80 per cent of a household’s rent, up to $2,500 a month, for each of the next four months, for anyone qualifying for the federal emergency benefit. The money would be paid to the tenant.
The same should be payable to small and medium-sized businesses to defray lease costs.
Six-month freeze on rent increases
The NDP is calling for a six-month freeze on rental rates until, at least, September 2020.
This could be achieved by a regulatory change.
Cost of proposal
The cost to the province is estimated to be between $2.4 billion and $3 billion.