National Coalition of Commercial Property Owners calls for Support to Small Businesses

A new coalition of commercial property owners is calling on provincial governments to provide direct supports to struggling small businesses instead of “blanket non-eviction measures that punish landlords participating in the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program”.

Members of the coalition signaled their intent to apply to the federal government’s CECRA program to help their hardest hit tenants, which includes non-eviction measures for those covered by the program as a condition of participation.

The coalition is calling on all provincial governments to join the governments of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nova Scotia who have instituted direct payments of $5000-6000 to help struggling small businesses, as a measure that will help them meet their 25 per cent rental obligation under the CECRA.

The coalition also called for changes to the federal government’s “Property Owner Forgivable Loan Agreement” under the CECRA that appears to claw back direct provincial government supports to small businesses.

According to the coalition, blanket non-eviction measures harms the ability of property owners — who participate in the CECRA — to pay their mortgage, property taxes, maintenance and utility costs. This is caused by drying up income from those tenants who can afford to pay their rent, while doing nothing to help struggling tenants pay their bills. 

“At a time when all Canadians need to do their part and pull together to fight COVID-19, it has not been helpful to see tenants pitted against property owners. This discredits property owners’ efforts to work closely with small businesses, who are the lifeblood of the commercial real estate sector, in order to accommodate their needs through rent deferrals and abatement under CECRA,” says the coalition. 

The coalition additionally states that if arbitrary measures like non-eviction measures are placed on property owners, making it harder to collect rent and pay bills, then commercial lenders should also be required to show leniency when it comes time to collect mortgage payments.

“Far more preferable is direct support to small businesses, making it easier for tenants, commercial property owners and commercial lenders to reach accommodation by working together to adjust agreements,” says the coalition.

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