rent freeze ontario covid

Toronto rental company puts other landlords to shame with incredible COVID-19 supports

Tenants and landlords alike are no doubt getting nervous as April 1 approaches, bringing with it a new due date for rent payments that some simply can't make in light of mass layoffs brought on by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite Ontario Premier Doug Ford's assurance that nobody can be legally evicted due to non-payment of rent during this precarious period, horror stories abound in Toronto of renters who've received ominous notes from their landlords.

Some building owners have inexplicably threatened rent increases amid the outbreak, while others are making sure tenants know that they can (and will) be evicted if they withhold rent — as some tenants say they're planning to do — once the government's rules let up.

And there are apartment operators like Greenrock — a firm with no less than nine residential communities across Toronto containing tens of thousands of tenants between them.

They're winning praise all over the city today for actually trying to help residents in a significant, quantifiable way.

A letter posted by one such tenant to Reddit this week shows that Greenrock Real Estate Advisors is not only being flexible with upcoming rent payments, it's giving each of its residents a $100 grocery card — and donating another $300,000 to local charities to assist those affected by COVID-19.

The company quietly revealed a new $500K COVID-19 Relief Fund on its website Friday morning, noting that rent increases for current tenants would be deferred and that all residents could use their last month's rent deposit as a credit towards their April rent payments.

Fitting for a company that bills itself as "a third-generation family business with a proud tradition of giving back to the community" and actually has a long history of giving back to the community.

"COVID-19 has created unique and extreme challenges for our city and communities. GREA through its Greenrock Charitable Trust has pledged $300,000 towards local charitable organizations to address concerns surrounding food security, mental health, domestic abuse, and senior care during this crisis," reads an announcement from the company.

"The first tranche of these donations will be $100,000 with additional amounts being donated to local charities in the months ahead. Initially, GREA will be donating $50,000 to the Daily Bread Food Bank and $10,000 each to Stella's PlaceKids Help PhoneThe 519The Redwood, and Sprint Senior Care."

Greenrock says that is is aware of support coming from all three levels of government to those experiencing financial hardships on account of the pandemic, but that it also understands "it will take time for these relief funds to be disbursed."

Residents in need can therefore choose to have either a portion or the entirety of their last month's rent deposit used as a credit toward their regular rent payments. The amount can be replenished in the future, at no additional cost to tenants and with no interest.

"GREA will also be gifting $100 grocery gift cards to its residents (one per unit) to help with each household's cost of groceries," writes the real estate advisory. "Due to the need for social distancing, all cards will be mailed directly."

GREA has also pledged to treat all high-touch surfaces in the common areas of both its residential and commercial buildings with the much-buzzed about GermGuard Treat and Protect Program.

"Super impressed - our landlord is sending every apartment a $100 grocery gift card and proactively offering to work with tenants who may have difficulty paying their rent during the pandemic," wrote one Greenrock resident on Twitter Friday. "Companies like this deserve recognition during COVID-19."

"As a former tenant of Greenrock, I was pleased to see them help renters during this difficult time by offering $100 for groceries, the option to move LMR to current payments, and donating to local charities who are on the front lines," wrote the Ontario Chamber of Commerce's Director of Policy, Daniel Safayeni, similarly.

"Other landlords should take note."

Lead photo by

Greenrock at Village Green

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