The COVID-19 pandemic hit so hard and so fast that many Kelowna residents are already fretting about how they’re going to make ends meet.
“I’ve heard from a lot of people, especially those who have been laid off from their job, the self-employed who’ve seen work dry up and students who’ve lost their part-time jobs, that they may not be able to pay their rent,” said Treena Carson-Piva of Real Property Management.
“The government has not legislated the deferral or reduction of rent payments, so we expect rents to be paid in full and on time.”
Real Property Management finds tenants and collects rents on behalf of hundreds of landlords and property owners in the Okanagan and Lower Mainland.
“If renters are having financial difficulty, there are financial assistance programs so they don’t have to default on their rent,” said Carson-Piva.
For instance, the federal government has waived the wait time to get on employment insurance, so those who have been laid off can start collecting benefits immediately.
For those out of work who do not qualify for employment insurance, Ottawa has introduced Emergency Care Benefits.
This crisis aid helps those who are sick with the novel coronavirus and those forced to stay at home to look after someone who is sick or children who are not in school.
The Emergency Care Benefits program is designed to help people keep secure housing, cover day-to-day essential expenses and protect credit.
For more information about how to access employment insurance quickly and Emergency Care Benefits, see Canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html.
“We’ve reached out to all our tenants to let them know about the employment insurance and Emergency Care Benefits help,” said Carson-Piva.
“And we also want them to understand their leases are binding and rent has to be paid. We’re keeping lines of communication open about all this.”
There’s also help for homeowners who aren’t able to pay their mortgage because of COVID-19-related job loss, income drop and other financial hardship.
The federal government is working with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and Canada’s six big banks to allow mortgage payment deferrals of up to six months. The big banks are CIBC, Royal, TD, Bank of Montreal, Scotiabank and National.
It’s recommended that if you need a mortgage payment deferral, you contact your bank directly to apply. Some bank hours are being reduced and phone lines are overwhelmed, so you’ll probably have to apply online.
Mortgage payment deferral does not mean skipping mortgage payments and having them forgiven. Interest will still accrue on the mortgage and you will have to make up the payments with a longer mortgage term.
Payments going forward will also be slightly higher to cover accrued interest.
Other options include temporarily reducing the amount of regular mortgage payments, increasing mortgage term or amortization.
Banks may also be open to temporary relief on other credit products, such as lines of credit, loans and credit cards. Each will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
Don’t ignore any credit repayment. Notify and work with the bank to get deferrals or relief.
More information is available at cmhc-schl.gc.ca under coronavirus updates.
The federal government hasn’t offered help like this since the financial crisis and recession of 2008-09.
B.C. Hydro is offering deferred bill payments for those facing money troubles because of COVID-19 upheaval. Call 1-800-224-9376.
The Business Development Bank of Canada is offering help to companies in the form of small business loans, working capital loans and purchase order financing.