Province announces eviction suspensions due to COVID-19

The province announced Thursday the Office of Residential Tenancies (ORT) will not be accepting applications for eviction, related to missed or late rent, or for other non-urgent claims.

Minister of Justice Don Morgan held a teleconference to announce the suspensions. He said It was an important first step to provide a clear message to Saskatchewan people facing hardships, letting them know they will remain in their homes.

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“We want to flatten the curve. An essential part of flattening the curve is staying home and self-isolating,” said Morgan.

Morgan said the suspensions will go on a month to month basis and will be re-assessed going forward. He added the ORT will only be conducting eviction hearings for urgent situations where there is a potential risk to health or safety resulting from violence or damage to property.

According to a media release on the eviction suspensions, hearings may also take place for situations where a tenant has been locked out by their landlord or where a landlord has been accused of not providing essential services such as power and water.

Additionally, tenants who are unable to pay their rent during the state of emergency will be expected to pay their rent in full once the state of emergency is over.

The media release said the action is being taken in recognition of the fact that the province is currently in an “unprecedented state of emergency that may result in unforeseen financial hardship or health consequences for tenants.”

Morgan said during the eviction suspensions, the owed rent will continue to accrue. He added the province is hopeful they will have a plan in place to give renters a way of making it easier for them to pay back the accrued costs.

The province is taking these measures not only to help those who may have been apart of the large increase in unemployment since the pandemic started, but also to help everybody in an effort to practise self-isolation to flatten the curve.

“Everything as we go along changes day by day. We noticed there has been a sharp increase in the number of people who have lost their employment. We’re hoping that is short-term but we have to work with everybody, landlords and tenants, as we go forward,” said Morgan.

The ORT is also encouraging landlords and tenants to communicate with each other about individual situations so they can come to mutually agreeable solutions during this “challenging time.”