The information below outlines some of the changes, options and supports available to you during these challenging times.
Paying or Collecting Rent
If you cannot pay your rent because of layoffs or mandatory self-isolation caused by COVID-19, pay what you can and speak with your landlord to work out a payment plan. Your landlord will expect some documentation of your inability to pay. You will have to pay this rent when your income improves, or when the COVID-19 crisis is over. Apply for any financial support programs you may qualify for. See the Financial Supports for Individuals section, as well as Financial Assistance for Tenants (Housing Help Centre).
Before you agree to a repayment plan, you should consider getting legal advice. You should not agree to a repayment plan that you cannot afford. Tenants can contact the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic for free legal advice.
Landlords should discuss individual situations with tenants, including programs offered by other levels of government, and whenever possible be flexible in making specific arrangements for payment of rent during this challenging time. Landlords who have trouble paying their expenses because of reduced rental revenues or COVID-19 related costs may qualify for relief programs to support businesses and property owners.
A reminder that rent strikes are illegal and put tenants at risk of eviction. It is important that everyone work together during this time of crisis.
The Ontario government suspension of new evictions through the COVID-19 crisis has ended as of August 1. Refer to the Landlord and Tenant Board website for details. It is critical that tenants and landlords have a written rent repayment agreement in place with payments that the tenant is able to make in their current financial situation. Tenants should not agree to repayment amounts they are not able to pay. Tenants should speak to their landlord about a repayment agreement even if they have received an eviction notice. Learn more about the financial supports that may be available.
Eviction orders issued before the mid-March Emergency Order are now being enforced. Eviction hearings are now being scheduled. Where landlords have given tenants eviction notices (N notices) during the eviction suspension, landlords must follow the processes in the Residential Tenancies Act to evict a tenant. These eviction processes were recently revised and the changes are retroactive to the March Emergency Order. Landlords and tenants can learn more about these changes to rental and eviction law from the Government of Ontario.
CERB applications are now being reviewed. Individuals who received CERB payments but were ineligible will be required to repay the amounts received. The CRA is asking individuals to repay those amounts by December 31, 2020. If a person repays the CERB before this time, the government says that they won't be fined or get any type of penalty. Review the CERB repayment details. For questions about your individual circumstance, please contact the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic.
The Residential Tenancy Act, 2006 (RTA) establishes a framework for the regulation of residential rents and balances the rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants. It provides protection for residential tenants from unlawful rent increases and unlawful evictions, and includes processes to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants.
The Property Tax Assistance program outlines several financial measures to Hamilton property taxpayers and ratepayers dealing with the possible financial hardship caused by the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Health and Safety Measures in Residential Buildings
Landlords are urged to adopt enhanced health and safety measures to protect residents from COVID-19. Residential buildings with a high number of units should adopt new practices and a rigorous cleaning routine to prevent viral spread.
Property owners/tenants are encouraged to check in on vulnerable residents/neighbours, connecting them to appropriate local agencies and supports if necessary.
Shelters and Supports for Individuals Experiencing Homelessness
To date, the City of Hamilton has allocated over $700,000 toward supporting vulnerable residents during this difficult time by assisting with food and basic needs, keeping shelters open and working with agencies to provide access to washrooms/showers. Isolation Centres have also been set up to provide food and shelter to any individuals in the shelter system that test positive for COVID-19.
A temporary emergency shelter based out of FirstOntario Centre will offer additional support to individuals who are at-risk and/or experiencing homeless, accommodating overflow from the shelter system to help ensure physical distancing.
Staff are also exploring ways to provide online supports for older adults, offering property owners some form of tax relief and setting up a network to deliver essentials like food and medication to those who are self-isolating but have little support.