CRA rolls out rent subsidy for commercial tenants

The Canada Revenue Agency has commercial tenants and landlords sighing in relief for a change after it announced a rent subsidy program to help them trudge through the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CRA will begin processing claims for the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), which covers businesses, non-profits and charities for up to 65% of their eligible expenses, on November 30, according to a news release from the government agency. Claims are retroactive to Sept. 27 and will be paid out by Dec. 4.

Organizations that were either shut down or had their activities significantly restricted by public health orders will be supported by Lockdown Support, “a top-up subsidy of 25%, meaning that they could receive rent or property expenses support of up to 90%.”

The release defined eligible expenses as commercial rent, property taxes (including school and municipal taxes), property insurance, and commercial mortgage interest.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, our government has provided continued support to businesses and workers,” Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland said in the release. “With the application process for the rent subsidy and Lockdown Support now open, employers impacted by COVID-19 will be able to access the help they need to get through the winter and the second wave of the virus. We will continue to do what it takes to support Canadians through this crisis.”

Small businesses have limped through the pandemic, which began mid-March, and according to Statistics Canada, only half of businesses that closed in March and April reopened in July. With only 43.3% of businesses reopened, Ontario observed the weakest rebound of all provinces, which StatCan attributed to continued restrictions in parts of the province through the month.

Canada’s housing market has been robust since the pandemic began, but persistent struggles in the retail space eventually trickle into and pervade the residential property market, says Davelle Morrison.

“Commercial strips affect residential properties,” said the Bosley Real Estate broker. “Imagine moving into a neighbourhood where a significant number of businesses are closed and storefronts are boarded up; it’s not good for residential property values.”

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