I was recently contacted by one of our wonderful tenants who happens to be self-employed and in an industry that had to shut down quickly due to COVID19 a couple of weeks ago. She was being proactive in explaining her financial situation and anticipating that cash-flow would be a challenge for April. I did some research and proposed a plan to defer her April rent, with the idea that the programs coming down the pipeline from the BC and Federal governments shortly will kick in over April and allow her to pay rent as usual starting in May. Once things are back to normal later this year, we’ll work out a plan to catch up on the outstanding April rent.

Everyone’s financial situation is different, and the coming months are going to pose challenges for tenants and landlords alike. Open communication, flexibility and compassion are going to be really important so we can get though this together.

So if you are a renter and you’ve lost your job due to COVID19, or if you are a landlord and you know one of your tenants is in that position, here are some of the key programs and policies announced (as of March 26, 2020) that will help smooth out the upcoming financial challenges.

Addendum for Landlords

In general, we advise against deferring mortgage payments, since you end up being charged interest on unpaid interest (you can read more about Mortgage Payment Deferral here). But at this time, given that it’s going to be a few weeks before the government programs start paying out, it would be prudent to take stock of your own financial picture and determine how a delay in receiving rents will affect your ability to make your next mortgage payment. 

If you are a landlord and you depend on receiving rental income in order to pay your mortgage, you should do a quick assessment of your tenants to determine who might be impacted with a job loss or significant drop in income and may need special accommodation or an extension on paying rent for April. Based on that assessment, if you will be challenged to cover your own bills and mortgage payment, you should investigate whether your bank/lender offers a “Skip a Payment” feature for your mortgage product(s). Many do (some can even be requested online through their client self-service portal), but usually you have to submit the request at least 10 days before your next scheduled payment so the payment debit system can be updated. Some lenders also have different rules for mortgages on your principal residence compared to mortgages on rental properties, so you may need to do a bit of digging in the fine print of your mortgage agreement to find out the options available for your particular mortgage product.