Saskatchewan is lifting the moratorium on non-urgent evictions put in place to protect tenants facing financial hardship due to COVID-19.
The Office of Residential Tenancies will begin accepting eviction applications from landlords for the non-payment of rent beginning Aug. 4, the provincial Ministry of Justice and Attorney General announced on Tuesday.
The moratorium was put in place on March 26 and applied exclusively to cases of non-payment of rent. The Office of Residential Tenancies continued to consider evictions involving abuse of property and/or violence.
“When we started the process initially, we indicated that it was rent deferment, not a rent holiday,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Don Morgan told reporters.
The news comes following a push from the Saskatchewan Landlord Association, which called on the government last month to end the eviction ban, citing “just over $30 million arrears due to tenants not paying their rent.” The organization noted some tenants were deliberately not paying.
The Office of Residential Tenancies will be responsible for developing protocols that support people who weren’t paying in full over in recent months, Morgan said.
“We’re leaving that in their capable hands,” he said.
No one from the Office of Residential Tenancies was made available in response to an interview request from Global News.
Opposition justice critic Nicole Sarauer challenged the government on its overall plan “to ensure that families who have made great personal and financial sacrifices during the COVID-19 lockdown are able to stay in their homes.
“The province needs to sit down with landlords and tenants and come back with a plan to ensure that we do not see families who have acted in good faith put out on the street.”
Applications will be dealt with case-by-case, Morgan said, noting the agency’s mandate has been to “try to deal with situations that were genuine hardship.”
For people who were deliberately not paying rent, the Office of Residential Tenancies “will probably be more direct at dealing with them,” Morgan said.
Morgan did not have an estimate regarding the number of anticipated eviction applications come August.
The Office of Residential Tenancies will be taking email and mail applications and will not be offering in-person service.