Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister and Finance Minister Scott Fielding announced March 24 that any rent increases scheduled to take effect April 1 or later will be suspended and non-urgent eviction hearings will be postponed effective today as part of the provincial government’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Taking these steps will help reduce financial uncertainty and worry for Manitobans who face challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Pallister. “Manitobans who have been laid off, are working less or are in self isolation shouldn’t also have to worry about making rent payments and keeping a roof over their heads.”
The only Residential Tenancies Branch (RTB) and Residential Tenancies Commission (RTC) eviction orders to be issued between now and May 31 are those addressing health and safety issues, including unlawful activities.
“This approach balances the need to support renters experiencing economic hardship or who are self-isolating in their unit due to COVID-19 with those safety concerns,” said Fielding. “The Residential Tenancies Branch remains available to resolve urgent situations involving health and safety for landlords and tenants, which could include a landlord illegally shutting off utilities or locking tenants out of their rental unit, or a landlord dealing with a situation where a tenant is conducting illegal activities from their rental unit.”
NDP MLAs Adrien Sala and Lisa Naylor called March 23 for the province to freeze all evictions, foreclosures and notices of tenancy termination immediately and to offer interest-free payment deferrals for renters for at least six months. They also wanted Crown corporations like Manitoba Hydro and Manitoba Public Insurance to offer interest-free payment deferrals on utility bills for up to six months and for the government to offer landlords financial support to disinfect residences and suspend non-urgent and routine maintenance work in apartment buildings.
“No family should be kicked out of their home because they can’t make rent right now or for any other reason,” said Naylor. “The province must keep families and our community safe by freezing all evictions.”
“Families from all income levels are worried about paying their bills right now—from electricity and water to the internet bills that keep them connected to loved ones,” said Sala."The province should reduce the burden on families by deferring payments.”
RTB offices in Winnipeg and Brandon are open on an appointment-only basis. The Thompson office is temporarily closed. Landlords and tenants who require further information or services can call 204-945-2476 or toll-free 1-800-782-8403 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are currently 21 confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases in Manitoba. For more information from the province on the COVID-19 pandemic, go to www.manitoba.ca/covid19.