Although the number of cases recorded in Quebec is still very minimal, the risks associated with the coronavirus should encourage landlords and managers to adopt measures aimed at limiting its spread.
To the extent that the product can be found, it is recommended that disinfectant dispensers be made available to tenants at building entrances and in common areas.
Also, a written notice should be posted, e-mailed or distributed to the units to reassure and inform tenants of the measures taken or recommended by the building administration. The following are some examples of what such a notice could contain:
- Recommend that tenants wash their hands as often as possible and avoid unprotected coughing or sneezing;
- When in contact with another person, Health Canada recommends keeping a distance of at least two metres and ensuring that interactions are brief;
- Limit physical contact with people who are in poor health;
- Advise tenants that doors, elevators and other common areas most susceptible to the spread of viruses will be cleaned more frequently than usual;
- Recommend that tenants temporarily reduce visits from family and friends for their own benefit, especially if someone has flu or cold symptoms;
- Advising tenants that interventions inside the units will be temporarily limited to emergency repairs and that they may be asked to temporarily confine themselves to another room if they have symptoms that could pose a risk of infection for the worker;
- Advise tenants who have not renewed their leases that if visitors show symptoms, there will not be any visits in their units;
- Provide contact information for public resources for anyone who believes they may have flu and cold symptoms: on the Internet at https://www.quebec.ca/sante/problemes-de-sante/a-z/coronavirus-2019/ or by phone at 1-877-644-4545.
In order to protect the occupants not renewing their leases, it would be preferable to limit or postpone visits. For visits that cannot be postponed, providing a mask and disinfectant, if possible, and asking visitors not to touch anything in the unit.
Landlords or managers should not require a worker to visit a dwelling if there is a serious health risk.
CORPIQ believes that coronavirus is no different from any other virus when it comes to the protection of human rights. There is therefore no justifiable reason to communicate to third parties the state of health of a tenant, whether suspected or proven.
On the other hand, it is possible that some tenants who experience income issues due to their absence from work (layoff, loss of income as a self-employed worker, etc.) or who falsely claim this, may request a deferral of their rent payments.
We recommend that landlords exercise caution until the government offers a guarantee for loss of rent.
Although coronavirus is an unusual situation, the rent remains payable and any default allows the landlord to exercise his recourses before the Régie du logement. Tolerating a situation of non-payment of rent for a tenant can have repercussions on other tenants and quickly degenerate into a loss of control. The decision is up to the landlord or his manager.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a press briefing that he is aware that Canadians are worried about their health, the health of their family members, their jobs and worried about not being able to pay their rent. He said that tax measures will be announced in the coming days to help Canadians financially, the details of which will be announced in future announcements.
CORPIQ invites its members to share other measures they have chosen to implement in their building.
CORPIQ has asked the Ministries of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Ministry of Health if they intend to make recommendations to landlords. The answer will be communicated to you as soon as CORPIQ receives it.
This text was written based on the situation observed as of March 13, 2020 and may have changed since then. Landlords’ and managers’ good judgment and proactivity, depending on the circumstances, should prevail.