B.C. strengthens federal commercial rent program

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B.C. businesses eligible for rent support from the federal government will be protected from evictions as the B.C. government issues a new order under the Emergency Program Act (EPA).

“The federal launch of the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program has been a welcome step in B.C., but we heard from small businesses that they need us to help fill a gap that has left some of them unable to get the support they need,” said Carole James, Minister of Finance. “We’re listening to small businesses and have their backs. Preventing landlords who are eligible for CECRA from evicting tenants can encourage landlords to apply for the program and give some temporary relief to businesses who have been hardest hit by the pandemic.”

Eligible businesses whose landlords choose not to apply for the federal CECRA program will be protected from evictions due to unpaid rent payments through to the end of June 2020, as determined by the federal program timelines.

The EPA order restricts the termination of lease agreements and the repossession of goods and property.

The CECRA program provides relief for small businesses experiencing severe financial hardship due to COVID-19. It offers forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners to reduce the rent owed by their impacted small business tenants and to meet operating expenses on commercial properties.

Property owners must offer a minimum of a 75% rent reduction for the months of April, May and June 2020. The CECRA loans to landlords will be forgiven if the landlord complies with program terms and conditions, including an agreement to not recover forgiven rent amounts when the program is over.

The emergency order restricting evictions is effective immediately.

This latest measure also aims to put B.C. businesses in a stronger position to participate in the Province’s restart and recovery plan.

Quick Facts:

  • Launched on May 24, 2020, the CECRA program was designed by the federal government and is delivered by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
  • As determined by the federal government, qualifying commercial tenants are those who have seen a 70% reduction in their revenue, have rent under $50,000 a month and generate no more than $20 million in gross annual revenues.
  • A 75% reduction in monthly rent for small businesses affected by COVID-19 is achieved by providing forgivable loans to landlords. The loans cover 50% of the rent payments for eligible small business tenants for April, May and June. The commercial tenant is responsible for covering 25%, the property owner 25%, while the federal and provincial governments share the remaining 50%.
  • Restricting evictions for CECRA-eligible businesses in B.C. is one of latest measures taken to support B.C. businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic, including:
    • an average 25% reduction in property tax bills
    • deferral of tax payments for EHT, PST, carbon tax and others through September
    • BC Hydro bill relief for small businesses that had to close

Learn More:

To apply for the Canada Emergency Commercial Response Benefit, visit: https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/finance-and-investing/covid19-cecra-small-business

For information on all provincial and federal supports available to B.C. businesses, visit: https://covid.smallbusinessbc.ca/hc/en-us