‘The bank can take our house’: Alberta landlords worry about provincial rental restrictions

EDMONTON — The province announced measures to ease the financial burden on renters during the pandemic on Friday, however, some landlords say the plan is causing more financial harm than help.

“Civil enforcements of evictions currently underway for tenants for nonpayment of rent will be suspended until April 30, and that includes those who have been unable to pay their rent in the past few months,” Premier Jason Kenney said in a news conference on Friday.

That’s the predicament Laurie Mullen and her husband find themselves in.

Set to evict a tenant on April 7, who they say has not paid rent in months; they’re worried the impact of these measures will be insurmountable.

“We’ve lost $4,280 dollars, and that doesn’t include the interest because my husband has been making these payments form his line of credit, which is now maxed in order to pay somebody else’s rent,” Laurie told CTV News Edmonton.

Laurie is a pharmacist and her husband is self-employed. He is not currently receiving an income, as he was forced to shut down his business due to provincial measures to fight the spread of COVID-19.

“If we don’t pay the bank, the bank can take our house. What can we take from a renter the minute this is over because they happily lived there three or four months’ rent free?” she asked.

In Calgary, Anne Landry said rent for the unit she’s been in for more than two decades has gone up significantly in recent years, including an increase of $185 a month starting last December.

Currently unemployed, she fears the current plan will not allow renters out of work enough time to get back on their feet.

“We need, across the board, no increases in 2020 and no evictions in 2020 for financial reasons in 2020,” she said.

Landry says she doesn’t believe it has to fall on landlords. She’d like to see Alberta follow B.C.’s lead, subsidizing rent by paying up to $500 a month directly to the landlords to alleviate some of the financial stress put on them.

Mullen says their 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom home in Lamont is rented for $1000 a month plus utilities, but says she’s been unable to work out any sort of payment plan with her tenant, who is set to be evicted once the state of health emergency ends.

She is worried her family does not have the means to cover their mortgages that long.

“I can’t imagine past three months, partially because my husband is out of work now too.”

Mellon is hoping further steps will be taken to help landlords like her recoup what’s been lost through these emergency measures. 

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