HOUSING / COVID-19 in Alberta: A legislative overview of tenancy-related changes.

Author:Feng, Judy
 
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Since declaring a public health emergency in Alberta on March 17, 2020, the government has made a flurry of announcements and legislative amendments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The government has implemented these changes through legislation and Ministerial Orders that majorly impact both landlords and tenants during this pandemic.

Unlike legislation that goes through a legislative process (including debate), Ministerial Orders do not require approval of the Cabinet. Orders can modify legislation. And like legislation, Orders have the force of law. A number of Ministerial Orders are currently in effect and introduce new protections for renters under the Residential Tenancies Act and Mobile Home Sites Tenancies Act during the state of public health emergency. Most of these orders are in effect as of April 1, 2020.

Ministerial Orders

No fees or penalties for late payment of rent or non-payment of rent

Ministerial Order no. SA: 003/2020 (Service Alberta) makes the Late Payment Fees and Penalties Regulation. Under the Regulation, landlords cannot charge a fee or penalty for late payments of rent or nonpayment of rent between April 1, 2020 and June 30, 2020. This applies even if a provision in a residential tenancy agreement says otherwise. The Regulation applies to every tenancy agreement in effect on April 1, 2020 (the coming in force of the Regulation) and those entered into between April 1, 2020 and June 30, 2020 under the Residential Tenancies Act.

Similarly, Ministerial order no. SA: 004/2020 (Service Alberta) modifies the Mobile Home Sites Tenancies Act to waive late fees from April 1, 2020 to June 30, 2020. This applies even if a provision in a mobile home site tenancy agreement says otherwise. The late fee waiver applies to every mobile home site tenancy agreement in effect on April 1, 2020 and those entered into between April 1, 2020 and June 30, 2020.

Requirement for payment plans

Ministerial order no. SA: 005/2020 (Service Alberta) changes both the Residential Tenancies Act and the Mobile Home Sites Tenancies Act to establish payment plans. If a tenant breaches a tenancy agreement by not paying rent, arrears of rent or utilities, a landlord cannot end the tenancy without:

* making reasonable efforts to enter into a meaningful payment plan OR

* entering into a payment plan and then the tenant not following such plan.

Similarly, before making an application for certain remedies (for example, recovery of rent arrears for unpaid rent or termination of a tenancy), landlords must demonstrate...

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