Despite a federal rent relief program kicking in May 25, some commercial landlords want no part of it, says Scott Wheatley.
The executive director for the Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce says he’s heard from at least four small business owners that have told him their landlords are refusing to apply for the program.
“They have told me their landlords won’t play ball, in terms of filling out the applications,” Wheatley said.
Wheatley said that very question about whether or not landlords would apply for the program was raised during the Chamber’s online Zoom-Town Hall meeting from May 22.
“Tamara Jansen’s going back to Ottawa with that very question, ‘What can we do to make (the rent relief program) worthwhile for landlords to be able to give [tenants] the break without costing them money out of their pockets.’”
Wheatley added that a lot of property owners are small business owners and losing rents is a big chunk out of their pockets, too.
Although Wheatley thinks landlords could lose even more revenue if commercial tenants closed their businesses because they couldn’t afford their rents.
As COVID-19 has forced businesses to shutter for good across the country, locally the Rustic Rooster has also decided to close its doors.
Cloverdale's famous Rustic Rooster cafe is closing down, another casualty of COVID-19. Today they donated a lot of their supplies to the Cloverdale Community Kitchen. CCK warehouse manager Jamie Wing loads those supplies onto a truck. pic.twitter.com/cYIBQc4uM3
— Cloverdale Reporter (@CloverdaleNews) May 27, 2020
Wheatley said he’s heard from others that are in financial peril, as well.
“I talked to a few business owners that are talking about closing,” said Wheatley.
He hopes that won’t happen. He’s hoping any landlord that has tenants in need will apply for the rent assistance program.
“Some have adapted really well and some have been great success stories, such as Tricia’s Gems, she’s selling a million masks. Then there’s the ones – any small restaurant, I would think– that are having a hard time.”
The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) will see the government cover 50 per cent of the rent, with tenants paying 25 per cent and landlords forgiving another 25 per cent. Property owners must also offer a 75 per cent discount on rent for the months of April, May and June to qualify. Small business tenants must pay no more than $50,000 in gross monthly rent per location, generate no more than $20 million in gross annual revenues and have had a 70 per cent drop in revenues due to COVID-19. The application portal is available by visiting cmhc-schl.gc.ca.
— with files from Kat Slepian.