Minto delaying spring rent increases, offering support to apartment tenants

A Minto Apartments sign in Ottawa. (Ted Raymond / CTV News Ottawa)

A major Canadian landlord is offering support to tenants during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a letter delivered to tenants, signed by COO George Van Noten, Minto Apartments says it is postponing any rental increases that were to take effect in April, May, or June. The increases will be deferred to July 1, 2020. Minto says it will not be increasing rents at this time and may extend the freeze longer, if the situation warrants it.

In a statement provided to CTV News Ottawa, Minto says the rent increase deferrals are happening in every province where Minto owns apartments: Ontario, Alberta, and Quebec. In Quebec, Minto says rental increases will be deferred to June 1, due to a slight difference in regulations compared to Ontario and Alberta.

The company also says it is working to offer rent relief to tenants who may be financially impacted by COVID-19.

"We are actively working together with a large group of like-minded property management companies and are in contact with all levels of government to explore all possible rent relief options to support tenants who are suffering financial hardship," the letter says.

Tenants who are seeking help with their rental payments are asked to contact their building's property manager.

Minto says it is working with the Federation of Rental Housing Providers (FRPO) and the Canadian Federation of Apartment Association on what they're calling a "Public Rental Assistance Program" aimed at providing support for residents.

The company says it is also contacting residents via email and posting regular updates in common areas with the latest information.

Minto is also asking any tenants who may be in self-isolation or quarantine to contact their property manager.

"While we will keep your personal information confidential, this will help us ensure that we are doing our part to contain the pandemic and get help to you, should it be required," the note to tenants said.

In their statement to CTV News Ottawa, Minto said if a case of COVID-19 is confirmed in one of its buildings, tenants will be notified, but the infected individual's identity will remain private.

"If decontamination is required, we have already identified and entered into relationships with professional 3rd party services and it is our intention to stay in contact with the infected individual to assist where possible and monitor on an on-going basis (remotely) as to their health and needs and they are maintaining proper quarantine procedures."

Minto is encouraging residents to practice physical distancing with each other and with building staff. At least one building in Ottawa has instituted a rule of only allowing two people per elevator.

The looming deadline of April 1, when rent is due for many across Canada, is quickly approaching, but Canadians waiting on government support may not have the money to pay rent in their hands by then.

Ontario, Quebec, B.C., Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and the Northwest Territories have banned evictions resulting from non-payment of rent during this pandemic.

Some groups are calling for a "rent strike" and asking tenants to refuse to pay their rent in April, either out of necessity or out of solidarity with those who can't afford to pay because they've lost their jobs.

In its letter to tenants, Minto thanked residents who continue to pay rent, saying "we're all in this together and we appreciate your support."

With files from The Canadian Press.

 

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