The Saskatchewan Government’s suspension of non-urgent evictions is ending on August 4th.
On that day, the province’s Office of Residential Tenancies will be taking eviction applications from landlords for all issues, including non-payment of rent. Tenants will also have to begin paying back overdue rent that was deferred because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Justice Minister and Attorney General Don Morgan says the plan for the original suspension was to make sure people had a place to physically distance and some relief from COVID-19 financial burdens, but with the pandemic’s curve flattening, it was time to begin pre-pandemic rental operations.
The Saskatchewan Landlord Association’s CEO is in favour of the move. Cameron Choquette notes hearing from landlords experiencing difficulties with people taking advantage of rent deferrals.
“We’ve had thousands of productive conversations with our tenants across the province, but approximately five per cent of tenants in the province are choosing to deliberately withhold rent, or refuse to negotiate payment plans or deferral agreements. So that small percentage does impact a lot of landlords, both small and medium-size specifically.”
Eviction hearings for these concerns will begin again, however, they will only be offered over the phone to reduce COVID-19 risk. Choquette explains that residents can also prevent having to go through these ORT hearings at all by reaching out to their landlords.
“It’s really important to communicate between landlords and tenants so that everyone knows what’s going on in terms of what eviction could like, but also what a payment plan could look like if there is financial instability there.”
Hearing officers will also be factoring in extenuated circumstances, such as job loss or other financial issues, into their eviction rulings.