ALBERTA – Renters can breathe a sigh of relief four days before their rent is due, after Alberta announced several new protections Friday (March 27) afternoon.
During a press conference, Premier Jason Kenney revealed temporary eviction suspensions, a freeze on all rent increases and no late payment fees for the next three months.
“We want to be clear – as of today, no one will be facing immediate eviction from their home for non-payment of rent or utilities owed to the landlord, Kenney said.
"Additionally, tenants will not face increasing financial pressure from rent increases, or fees for late rent payments."
Now renters who are out of work due to self-isolation or quarantine, or had their businesses shut down because of COVID-19, will have some flexibility from the province as Kenney outlined the stipulations of the new protections.
Effective immediately, tenants cannot be evicted for non-payment of rent and/or utilities before May 1 and rents will not increase while Alberta’s state of public health emergency remains in effect. The rental freeze is in effect for residential properties and mobile home sites and is in power, even if notice of an increase has already been given.
As of April 1, late fees cannot be applied to late rent payments for the next three months and landlords will also not be able to retroactively collect late fees for this period.
The premier also ordered landlords and tenants to work together to develop payment plans while the state of public health emergency is in effect.
“We are expecting landlords and tenants to work together to figure out payment plans that help everyone meet financial obligations as we manage COVID-19, and we are doing further policy work on support for renters during these tough times,” Kenney said.
Alberta called a state of public health emergency March 17, a week and a half after COVID-19 hit the province. Three weeks later, the number of positive cases has risen up to 542, with two recorded deaths and 33 individuals who have recovered.
As of Friday (March 27), the Canmore region had five positive cases and the Banff region recorded its first positive case, according to the Alberta Health Services website.
“We’ve been listening to the financial concerns of landlords and tenants and these measures protect Albertans and give them time to get back on their feet. This is more practical relief from the immediate financial pressures on Albertans,” Minister of Service Alberta, Nate Glubish said at the press conference.
The announcement comes a week after the premier said he was hopeful landlords would show "flexibility" during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now with outlined measures, the province ensures there will be flexibility for tenants, but Kenney made it clear that evictions for criminal activity or vandalism would still be carried out.
Landlords can still file applications and receive orders for possession if the reason for eviction is unrelated to rent and/or utility payments, Kenney said.