May 27, 2020
Rent Relief: Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance
The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) is another COVID-19 related program initiated by the Canadian government and administered through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (“CMHC”). The program is directed towards landlords with tenants facing financial difficulty or bankruptcy. Through this program, it is hoped that small business commercial tenants will survive and landlords avoid vacancies due to bankrupt tenants.
The application portal was open to receive applications on May 25, 2020.
Click HERE to access the CECRA application portal.
Landlord Eligibility Criteria
To qualify for CECRA, the commercial property owner (the landlord) must:
- own commercial real property1 which is occupied by one or more impacted small business tenants
- enter (or have already entered) into a legally binding rent reduction agreement for the period of April, May and June 2020, reducing an impacted small business tenant’s rent by at least 75%
- ensure the rent reduction agreement with each impacted tenant includes:
- a moratorium on eviction for the period during which the property owner agrees to apply the loan proceeds, and
- a declaration of rental revenue included in the attestation
Individuals holding political office – federal or provincial – and who control commercial property indirectly will not qualify for this program.
Where there are long-term commercial leases with third parties to operate a property (for example, airports), the third party is eligible as the property owner.
Small businesses that opened on or after March 1, 2020, are not eligible.
Commercial properties with a residential component and multi-unit residential mixed-use properties would equally be eligible with respect to their small business tenants.
CECRA is available to property owners whether there is a mortgage on the property or not.
“Impacted Small Business Tenants” Defined
Impacted small business tenants include non-profit and charitable organizations. They:
- pay no more than $50,000 in monthly gross rent per location (as defined by a valid and enforceable lease agreement)
- generate no more than $20 million in gross annual revenues, calculated on a consolidated basis (at the ultimate parent level)
- have experienced at least a 70% decline in pre-COVID-19 revenues2
Sub-tenants which meet the definition of an eligible small business are also eligible provided the lease meets program criteria.
How the Program Operates
The program is designed and intended to aid with forgivable loans for the months of April, May and June 2020.
Property owners may apply for assistance once the 3-month period has ended if they can meet eligibility criteria during those months but no later than August 31, 2020, when the program ends.
The funds received from the program must be used by the landlord to refund the impacted small business tenant for amounts received in excess of 25% of the rent paid. Alternatively, the impacted tenant may apply the excessive rent paid to future rent they will owe.3
The result: The property owner (landlord) receives 25% of the monthly gross rent4 from the tenant, receives 50% of the monthly gross rent from the CECRA program as a forgivable loan5 and forfeits the remaining 25% of the monthly gross rent. Effectively, the property owner is out of pocket by 25% of the gross monthly lease for the months of April, May and June 2020.
Application Deadline: August 31, 2020
Through the CMHC, forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners are made available. Funds will be transferred to the property owner’s financial institution to cover up to 50% of the monthly gross rent owed by impacted small business tenants during the 3-month period of April, May and June 2020.
CECRA for small business loans will be forgiven if the property owner complies with all applicable program terms and conditions. Terms and conditions include agreeing to not recover forgiven rent amounts when the program is over.
Applying for CECRA
Applicants must provide a rent reduction agreement(s) as well as landlord and tenant attestations.6
Property owners in Ontario with up to 10 affected tenants are invited to register on May 26, 2020. All other property owners are encouraged to register on May 27, 2020. The site is open to all registrants on May 29, 2020.
Following registration, the portal will be available for the input of data and to upload documents.
What Is Needed to Apply
Property owners will be asked to provide information to support their application, sign an attestation and agree to the terms and conditions of the loan agreement to be eligible for the program.
Property address, type, property tax statement, number of employees, latest rent roll for each property and the number of commercial units will be needed upon application.
Property owner banking information (including bank statement), contact information, co-ownership information and contact details for co-owners will also be requested.
Tenant contact information, registered business name, lease area and the monthly gross rent for the period of April, May and June 2020 will be requested.
If the tenant files for bankruptcy, restructures, reorganizes, or dissolves the business, the loan will need to be repaid in full.
If the property owner defaults, CMHC has full recourse to recover the CECRA funding in full.
To see CMHC’s guidance in full, including FAQs for property owners and tenants, CLICK HERE.
Developments to this program will be monitored and material updates communicated where possible.
If there are questions arising from this article, contact Jonathan Tucker. Contact information is set out below.
1 Commercial Real Property is defined, by the government, as a commercial property with small business tenants.
2 Small businesses can compare April, May and June 2020 revenues to revenues of the same period in 2019 to measure revenue decreases. An average of revenues earned in January and February of 2020 may also be used.
3 If rent was received at the time of approval, the tenant will be credited for a future month’s rent (July for April, for example) — if the tenant so chooses. This can be a flexible 3-month period.
4 Gross rents include: Net rent, minimum rent, base rent, regular monthly instalments of operating costs, property taxes payable to the landlord, other additional rent amounts payable to the landlord (e.g. maintenance costs, repairs, utilities, management fees, etc.), gross rent (in a gross lease)and percentage of sales rent paid (where applicable).
5 This interest-free loan will be forgiven on December 31, 2020.
6 CMHC has provided template forms that landlords can use (and in the case of the forgivable loan agreement, must use) when applying for CECRA including Tenant or Sub-tenant’s Attestation, Property Owner’s Attestation and Rent Reduction Agreement.