Province adds four measures to protect renters

by Morinville News Staff

The Government of Alberta announced four new measures to protect Alberta’s residential renters during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new protections are as follows:

Effective immediately, tenants cannot be evicted for non-payment of rent and/or utilities before May 1.

Effective immediately, rents will not increase while Alberta’s state of public health emergency remains in effect.

Effective April 1, late fees cannot be applied to late rent payments for the next three months.

Effective April 1, landlords and tenants need to work together to develop payment plans while the state of public health emergency is in effect.

“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,” Premier Jason Kenney said Friday. “Additionally, tenants will not face increasing financial pressure from rent increases or fees for late rent payments. 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.”

Minister of Service Alberta Nate Glubish said the government has been listening to the financial concerns of landlords and tenants and that Friday’s measures will protect Albertans and give them time to get back on their feet.

“This is more practical relief from the immediate financial pressures on Albertans – on top of emergency isolation supports, deferrals of utility bill and student loan payments, an education property tax freeze, and ATB Financial mortgage deferrals,” Glubish said.

The freeze on rental increases are frozen until the state of public health emergency has been lifted. During that time, landlords cannot raise the rent on residential properties or mobile home sites, even if notice of an increase has already been given.

Landlords cannot penalize tenants who are late on rent by charging late fees, even if the signed rental agreement states that a late fee can be applied. Landlords will also not be able to retroactively collect late fees for this period.

Alberta’s NDP Opposition responded that the Premier finally caved after more than a week of pressure.

“I am relieved the Premier has realized what a terrible mistake he was making,” said Heather Sweet, NDP House Leader. “Albertans were aghast at the Premier’s earlier claims that Alberta families facing eviction in only a few days were criminals. It is good news for our province that he is finally listening to the advice of public health officials and making sure that renters still have a home to stay in.”

The NDP says Alberta is the last of 10 Canadian provinces to announce a ban or delay on rental evictions and that dozens of American states and cities had also brought in similar policies.

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