commercial evictions ontario

Ontario officially bans landlords from evicting restaurants and small businesses

After months of asking nicely, warning sternly, and then flat out threatening building owners who refused to show even a smidge of compassion for their hard-up small business tenants during an economy-crippling pandemic, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has finally dropped the hammer on "greedy landlords" and banned commercial evictions.

The provincial government announced late Wednesday night that it had passed something called the Protecting Small Business Act, effectively halting the eviction of commercial tenants in Ontario and "protecting them from being locked out or having their assets seized during COVID-19."

Not only will the legislation stop landlords from kicking out business owners who can't make rent after three months of government-mandated closures, it can be applied retroactively to those who've already been evicted.

Any business that was booted from its space after May 1, 2020, is protected under the new legislation, which will remain in effect until at least August 31, 2020.

"We know COVID-19 has had a significant impact on small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy," said Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark in a release announcing the passing of the act.

"This Legislation will allow us to protect small businesses and help them get back on their feet so they can continue to create jobs and participate in the rebuilding of the provincial economy."

Sadly, the legislation will not bring back the livelihoods of small business owners who were kicked out of their spaces almost immediately after the pandemic hit.

Municipal politicians, advocates and small business owners had been pleading with the provincial government for months ahead of last night's announcement to pause commercial evictions while mandatory closure orders remain in place, as they did with residential evictions back in March.

Ford had held off on doing so, however, in the hopes that landlords and business owners would cooperate on their own once the federal government launched its commercial rent assistance program.

Applications for the the Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (OCECRA) Program, which sees the federal and provincial governments together pay 50 per cent of rent costs while tenants and landlords both chip in another 25 per cent, launched on May 25.

Reports continued to surface of building owners refusing to participate, however, despite threats from both Ford and Toronto Mayor John Tory that strict action would be taken if they didn't begin to play ball.

Ford announced on June 8 that enough was enough: His government would finally be moving forward to order a commercial eviction ban.

Now that the ban is in place, countless local business owners can breathe sighs of relief knowing they won't lose everything after three months of pulling in just a fraction (if not zero per cent) of their normal revenue.

For those evicted before May, however, it's too little, too late.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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