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.)
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 has suspended all new evictions during the COVID-19 crisis, unless due to illegal activity creating a safety concern or illegal lockouts of tenants by landlords. Housing Tribunals Ontario has postponed all in-person hearings. Landlords should not proceed with any eviction orders currently in progress. Please note that while evictions are stopped now, tenants are expected to get caught up on rent once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
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.
There are many types of financial support available to help individuals and families experiencing challenges due to COVID-19. A COVID-19 Virtual Assistant is available online to help you find more information on what financial supports are there for you from the Government of Canada www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html
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.