In a facebook post on Saturday April 11th,  Kevin O’Reilly the MLA for Frame Lake and Lesa Semmler, MLA for Inuvik Twin Lakes both shared the same copy of a new regulation made under the Residential Tenancy Act that protects tenants from evictions during the COVID emergency if they are unable to pay their rent.

In a statement released Wednesday April 15th, NWT Minister of Finance confirmed that the GNWT has enacted a temporary regulation that offers tenants a mechanism to defer their rent if they have lost their job or have had a significant decline in their income during the COVID-19 health pandemic retroactive to Thursday, April 9, 2020.

The Residential Tenancies (COVID-19) Regulations Act would allow NWT tenants who are experiencing financial hardship to advise their landlord in writing of the reasons they are unable to pay their rent, and how they plan to pay it in the future.

Caroline Wawzonek announced today the after you have provided your written notice is provided by the tenant, landlords will not be able to terminate tenancies for any of following reasons either.

  • A rental property is the landlord’s only residence in the Northwest Territories
  • A tenancy agreement is for subsidized public housing
  • A landlord requires possession of the rental premises for use as their own residence, or their immediate family
  • A landlord has entered into an agreement of sale
  • A landlord requires the property for demolition of the residence, extensive renovations, or if they are repurposing the property and will no longer be renting it
  • A student or staff member was provided housing by an educational institution but no longer meets the requirements to qualify for that housing
  • A landlord and a tenant share a bathroom or kitchen facility and have had personal differences that make continuing the tenancy unfair to either of them.

If a landlord has already given notice and started the process to terminate a tenancy based on one of the past reasons, and a tenant submits written notice that they are unable to pay their rent due to COVID-19, the process will be paused until this regulation is repealed or discontinued.

The landlord would be able to request evidence to prove the tenant is no longer employed or is experiencing reduced income.

  • All rent would still be payable by the tenant when their circumstances change,
    • or when the current pandemic circumstances ease and the temporary regulation is revoked.

In addition to non-payment of rent, the temporary regulation also suspends a landlord’s ability to evict a tenant for a number of other reasons outlined in the NWT’s Residential Tenancies Act.

Please note that landlords can still apply to a rental officer for an eviction order after giving a tenant 10 days’ notice of eviction for the following reasons;

  • A tenant has repeatedly and unreasonably disturbed the landlord’s or other tenants use of the rental property
  • A tenant has caused damage to the rental property and not followed an order to address it
  • A tenant has not followed an order to address an obligation in a tenancy agreement
  • The tenancy agreement has been frustrated (cannot be carried out)
  • The safety of the landlord or other tenants has been seriously impaired by the tenant

It should be noted that nothing in the temporary regulation prevents a landlord and tenant from agreeing to end a tenancy, and it does not affect the right of a tenant to apply to terminate a tenancy due to family violence.

The statement does note the temporary regulation will allow some tenants to defer their rent, but they will still have to pay it after the regulation is repealed.

Minister Wawzonek says the protections for tenants that the temporary regulation offers will end when the regulation is repealed, and it is important that tenants make plans for paying the rental arrears after the emergency is over.

“This temporary regulation will ensure they are still able to stay in their housing. It postpones but does not remove their responsibility to pay their rent to their landlord, but it does give them breathing time to get their plans in order to be able to meet their financial obligations without fear of eviction.” -Caroline Wawzonek, Minister of Finance

GNWT states any further changes and the eventual repeal of these protections will be publicly communicated.