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I’m a small business owner in BC. We had to close because of COVID-19 Coronavirus. Can my landlord still make me pay rent?

13, 10-2020

Probably yes. First, consult your lease, and see if there’s any clause that you can point out that can relieve you of the obligation to pay rent during the pandemic. No matter what, try to keep communication lines open. Your landlord is no doubt aware of the situation. Perhaps you can defer the rent payment, or agree to just pay a part of it for a few months. 

If you have insurance, call your broker. It may be that you’re covered for business interruption insurance and can make a claim for compensation at this time.

Otherwise, the Business Development Bank of Canada has an emergency loan program for entrepreneurs. Take a look at the federal government announcement on how they intend to support businesses, including tax deferrals and paying part of employee wages.

More recently, the federal government has reached an agreement in principle with all provinces and territories to implement the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses. This program will lower rent by 75 per cent for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19 Coronavirus. The program will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50% of three monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financial hardship during April, May, June, July, August and September. Applications are now open. See the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation for further details or to apply.

For more help and information for businesses, see Small Business BC’s new COVID-19 Support Service.

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