Manitoba’s eviction moratorium put in place in late March while the novel coronavirus ravaged the province’s economy amid widespread shutdowns has ended.
The province did not freeze rent collection while evictions — barring urgent health and safety issues — were banned.
Now, eviction hearings are beginning.
“Our advocates are aware of more notices of termination starting to be handed out, so there’s definitely been an increase in people calling our office,” said Allison Fenske, a lawyer at the Public Interest Law Centre, an arms-length advocacy centre funded by Legal Aid Manitoba.
“The thing to remember is that this was an eviction ban but not a rent freeze, and so if folks were not able to pay their rent on time during this ban on evictions, they’re now going to find themselves in a very precarious position.”
If someone has not been paying rent, Fenske said, it’s difficult to challenge that eviction notice.
“It’s simply delaying almost an inevitability if people haven’t been able to pay their rent and haven’t been able to without any sort of means of support being provided to be able to maintain payments… it’s just going to mean while they weren’t able to be evicted up until Sept. 30, with this lifting of that ban, going through the notice processes and potentially a hearing… you could have people being evicted as early as December as a result,” she said.
Fenske noted although the law centre has seen an increase in calls requesting help with tenancy issues in the past week, it’s unclear whether that’s due to an increase in the number of eviction notices handed out or just the requests returning to pre-pandemic levels, while the provincial Residential Tenancies Branch said the demand for eviction hearings is not significant.
“Hearings at the Residential Tenancies Branch resume (Thursday) primarily to deal with matters postponed due to the pandemic. A hearing does not necessarily mean an eviction. The RTB also provides mediation and issues orders to resolve matters,” a spokesperson for the RTB wrote in an emailed statement when asked why the moratorium was lifted.
“The RTB is not seeing a significant demand for hearings this week and still has available spots.”
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