BCREA: New Commercial Rent Assistance Program

November 26, 2020

CERS Will Subsidize Up To 65 Per Cent Of Rent Or Commercial Mortgage

BRITISH COLUMBIA – Canadian businesses, non-profits and charities experiencing financial hardship from COVID-19 may be eligible for a subsidy to cover part of their commercial rent through the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS). This program, in effect since November 23, replaces a previous commercial rent assistance program (CECRA) that had lower pickup than the government expected. The goal of CERS is to support viable businesses and organizations as they head into a difficult winter.

CERS is intended to be used by organizations that have experienced a loss of revenue due to COVID-19. CERS will subsidize up to 65 per cent of rent or commercial mortgage interest on a sliding scale based on decline in revenues. The program also provides an additional top-up subsidy of 25 per cent for eligible organizations temporarily shut down by a mandatory public health order. CERS is available retroactively from September 27, meaning that it doesn’t help businesses that had to shut down in the spring.

The periods for which organizations can apply mirror the periods used for the ongoing Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program. Currently, organizations can apply for periods until December 19, 2020. After that time, the federal government will adapt and target the program as needed. The program is set to continue until June 2021.

CERS incorporates both of BCREA’s recommendations to improve CECRA:

The subsidy will provide payments directly to the affected organizations, without requiring landlords to apply.

CERS also has no minimum revenue drop required to qualify.

BC is facing the most challenging time of this pandemic, with increased case counts resulting in the introduction of more strict public health orders. CERS can provide relief to many commercial tenants, including realtors, as we all adapt to continuously shifting market conditions.

To learn more about the eligibility requirements, visit the CERS website.

Matt Mayers is a Policy Analyst with BCREA.

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