A commercial lease is now very likely one of a business owner’s greatest expenses, and in these times, one of great concern. Commercial tenants across the country are having to face difficult questions, not least of all how they will pay their rent in the coming months.
Thankfully for many, the federal and provincial governments have recently introduced a rental-assistance initiative to aid commercial landlords and tenants. The Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program
aims to provide forgivable loans to commercial property owners for the months of April and May, retroactively, and June (for now), covering 50% of a tenant’s rent payments; landlords and tenants will each be expected to pay 25% of the remaining rent. While this will undoubtedly work to relieve the burden on many tenancies, it may not be available to all. In order for a commercial property owner to qualify for the program, the tenant must not pay monthly rent exceeding $50,000 in gross nor generate more than $20 million in gross annual revenues, and must have temporarily ceased operations or have experienced a 70% drop in pre-Covid-19 revenues. Furthermore, the landlord’s property must be mortgaged, and application for the program is at the landlord’s discretion.
For those who will not stand to benefit from government assistance, solutions between landlord and tenant will be necessary. In an ideal scenario, a landlord will be amenable to working with its tenant to find acceptable terms to navigate the current Covid-19 crisis. Unfortunately, not all landlords will be quite so willing or able to help, and business owners must in turn be conscious of the rights they may have within their lease agreements.
If you are unsure where you stand regarding your tenancy, we will gladly review your lease and provide you with our legal opinion as to your rights. There may be more hope than you had initially thought, and we can help you understand your obligations and opportunities during these difficult times. Please contact us if you wish to discuss your situation.