May 1 is quickly approaching. Will people be able to pay their rent?
TORONTO -- A group that advocates for landlord rights feels that about 15 per cent of tenants in Ontario did not pay their rent on April 1 and they feel the number will be higher on May 1.
“On May 1, there are going to be more people that will not pay their rent either because they haven't got any government relief or they want to take part in a rent strike," said Kayla Andrade, president of Ontario Landlords Watch.
A Cambridge, Ont. family that bought a home as an investment says their tenant hasn’t paid the rent in almost five months and worries he’s now using the pandemic as a way to stay in the house rent free.
Enza Figueira says there is little they can do because cases before the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board are on hold and evictions have been stopped for four months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They are not evicting people and the sheriff is not working and we are kind of like what do we do now?" Figueira said.
Her son, Stephan Figueira, bought the home as an investment property and he decided to rent it out last summer. The renters started off paying the rent initially but are now five months behind.
“We have a court order and there is a payment schedule for him, but he feels with this COVID-19 he doesn't have to pay the rent. Now I'm behind $10,000 in back rent and I’m on the brink of losing my house," said Stephan Figueira.
A movement to hold a rent strike, that started last month, continues to gain momentum with messages being shared on social media and YouTube.
The Ontario government has rolled out a plan for some rent relief for commercial landlords, but not landlords of residential housing.
When Premier Doug Ford announced the measures April 24 he called on tenants to pay their rent if they have the ability to do so.
“I want to be very clear, if you’re working, if you have an income, if you’re able to, you must pay rent,” Ford said.
The Figueiras worry they could lose their rental property if the pandemic drags on. “He is just using it (COVID-19) as an excuse just to buy time to live in the house," said Stephan Figueira.
The Federation of Metro Tenants Associations told CTV News Toronto other surveys also found that about 15 per cent of tenants did not pay their rent in April.
Geordie Dent, the executive director of the federation, said he believes the number of people who won’t pay their rent will be higher in May as not everyone was eligible for government funding and some renters may have trouble coming up with rent money on the first of the month.