Lethbridge tenants receive eviction letter despite COVID-19 rental rules

Despite new rules in Alberta surrounding evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, one landlord in Lethbridge distributed several 14-day eviction warnings on Tuesday.

Legacy McAdam and her boyfriend were shocked to find a letter from their landlord on Tuesday evening.

The Lethbridge woman says she’s aware of changes the government has made to protect tenants, and she doesn’t understand how this could be happening.

“[The letter] says that if you don’t pay rent, no matter what, then you have 14 days to get out, and if you can’t afford it then just move,” said McAdam.

“With everything going on right now, with loss of jobs, loss of income … we can’t.”

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Many residents in her housing unit who did not want to be identified say they also believe it’s unfair, as many of them are living on low-income and disability supports.

READ MORE: 44% of Canadian households report lost work amid COVID-19 pandemic: poll

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“They don’t qualify for [CERB] or reach the necessities needed for it. So it’s kind of a big slap in the face that he [our landlord] says ‘Oh yeah, everyone gets $2000’ when that’s just not the case,” said McAdam.

The landlord says he was just trying to make ends meet in a difficult time.

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“My letter pretty much says they have to pay rent. It’s not free rent that’s for sure,” landlord Govind Reddy said.

“I understand the situation everyone is in. I’m not kicking my tenants out of there. They can stay there for the next two months and, somehow, I can survive but I need money.”

“I wish I had a lot of money and could give them free rent and help them out, but it’s not the case and we live paycheque to paycheque.”

READ MORE: Alberta legislation put forward to move mobile home tenant-landlord disputes out of court

Service Alberta says that while Albertans are protected from eviction until May 1, there are stipulations to ensure landlords are not taken advantage of, something they say few other provinces are taking into account.

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Not a rent holiday: officials

By May 1, tenants and landlords must establish some form of payment plan that works for both parties until the end of the health crisis.

“Any ruling from the RTDRS that would call for an eviction would not be enforceable in April and would only be enforceable from May 1 until the end of the public health crisis.” Minister of Service Alberta Nate Glubish said.

“So long as the landlord could demonstrate they had made a meaningful and reasonable effort to enter into a payment plan with their tenant and the tenant had refused. They do still have to pay their rent. This is not a rent holiday.”

READ MORE: Alberta landlord fears financial challenges as protections for renters kick in

Landlord Govind Reddy later confirmed to Global News that he did not fully understand the new regulations and has since rescinded his 14-day warnings.

He says he hopes the government can do more to support landlords directly in future.

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