Minister Caroline Wawzonek confirmed today that the GNWT has enacted the Residential Tenancies (COVID-19) Regulations, a new temporary regulation that offers tenants a mechanism to defer their rent if they have lost their job or have had a significant decline in their income during the COVID-19 health pandemic.
In the Northwest Territories, the relationship between tenants and landlords is governed by the Residential Tenancies Act, which lays out the responsibilities and rights of both tenants and landlords, and establishes a process for resolving disputes. The Act requires that tenants pay rent as stipulated in their tenancy agreement, and allows for landlords to apply to terminate the tenancy and seek an eviction order should rent not be paid.
This new temporary regulation allows tenants who are experiencing financial hardship to advise their landlord in writing of the reasons they are unable to pay their rent, and how they plan to pay it in the future. The Landlord would be able to request evidence to prove the tenant is no longer employed or is experiencing reduced income. All rent would still be payable by the tenant when their circumstances change, or when the current pandemic circumstances ease and the temporary regulation is revoked. In addition to non-payment of rent, the temporary regulation also suspends a landlord's ability to evict a tenant for a number of other reasons outlined in the Act.
Landlords may still apply to a rental officer for an eviction order after giving a tenant 10 days’ notice of eviction for reasons such as the tenant has caused repeated unreasonable disturbance of other tenant's use of the property, or has caused damage to the property and not followed orders to repair the damage, or if the safety of the landlord or other tenants has been seriously impaired by the tenant and other lease requirements. The full Residential Tenancies (COVID-19) Regulations are available here:
"These are unprecedented times due to the global health pandemic, and we know there are going to be people who find themselves in a situation where they are unable to pay their rent in full and on time. This temporary regulation will ensure they are still able to stay in their housing. It postpones but does not remove their responsibility to pay their rent to their landlord, but it does give them breathing time to get their plans in order to be able to meet their financial obligations without fear of eviction."
-Caroline Wawzonek, Minister of Finance
- This new regulation comes into effect Thursday, April 9, 2020
- backgrounder information sheet attached
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Government of the Northwest Territories