The day of reckoning for residential tenants is coming and it’s just around the corner. Governments all over are left scrambling trying to handle the expiration of the moratorium on evictions.
But just as the day of reckoning is looming for tenants who are behind on their rent, some politicians are working behind the scenes to protect tenants who have been impacted by the pandemic. Still others are using the pandemic as a pretext to over-reach and actively penalize landlords.
In my home city of Ottawa Canada one City Councilor put a motion in front of city council’s Community and Protective Services Committee. Motions recommended by the committee eventually go in front of city council for a vote. The wording of the motion called on the province to ban all residential rental evictions, except in case of threats to public safety, until the COVID-19 pandemic is effectively contained. At the end of a long meeting, the committee carried that motion.
If this motion were in fact to be approved by city council, this means:
· If there is an agreement to terminate the lease, the tenant doesn’t actually need to leave and can stay as long as they like with no fear of eviction.
· If a tenant sends the landlord a notice to terminate the lease, they don’t actually need to leave when they said they were going to, and they would have no fear of eviction.
· If a tenant exercises bad behaviour and is disturbing the peace, they can’t be evicted.
· If a tenant simply refuses to pay rent with no demonstrable financial hardship, they can’t be evicted.
Since none of those reasons have anything to do with the pandemic and the economic impact resulting from the pandemic, why would government have the right to eliminate one of the few remedies at a landlords disposal?
One of the lawyers who represents the landlord community called that city councilor and convinced them to change the wording of the motion to make it better balanced for landlords.
The original wording was so broad and encompassing that it went far beyond protecting tenants from the pandemic.
But here’s where the story took a turn. The city councilor agreed that the suggested wording changes were an improvement. But then later in the day changed their mind and reversed their support for the revised wording changes.
Here is where I started to lose faith in at least one person who was elected to a position of power to make decisions.
The argument is that housing is a basic human right.
In a city where the winter temperatures drop to -40 degrees, I agree with that notion completely. Housing is a basic human right.
But there is a difference between saying housing is a human right, and specifically targeting business owners to guarantee that human right.
Food is a human right too. I don’t see government stepping in and telling the grocery store owner that they have to allow anyone who comes into the store to steal as much as they like with no consequence.
I don’t see governments telling the car manufacturers that basic transportation is essential to life in our society and therefore they must let anyone who walks in and needs a car to help themselves to a car they like on the lot.
I don’t see governments telling the lawyers that since justice is a human right, lawyers must allow their clients not to pay their legal bills.
This distorted motion is going to be voted at City Council within the next day. I have no idea which way the vote is going to go. I hope that the remainder of city council will know how dangerous this motion is and defeat it.
So why am I telling you this? I can guarantee that similar discussions are underway at virtually every city council and town council in the world. It’s your job to get in contact with your local politicians and educate them on the alternative solutions