Colliers says 1 in 5 Canadian commercial tenants requested rent relief for April

Colliers says 1 in 5 Canadian commercial tenants requested rent relief for April

A new Colliers Canada report shows that 21 per cent of 7,100 retail, industrial and office tenants surveyed requested April rent relief as Canadian businesses continued to slow or shut during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of these commercial tenants, close to half indicated that they could not afford to make their rent payment.

The Rent Relief Requests: Key Drivers and Owner Recommendations report surveyed commercial tenants across Canada and revealed four key drivers of rent relief requests:

  • Tenants whose businesses were completely closed were 3.4 times more likely to request rent relief than tenants who were partially open, open remotely, or open.
  • Small business tenants were 2.7 times more likely to request rent relief than regional, national or international tenants.
  • Retail tenants were 2.3 times more likely to request rent relief than office and industrial tenants.
  • Tenants without access to municipal government support, such as property tax or utilities deferral, were 1.2 times more likely to request rent relief than tenants with access to additional levels of support.

“Now more than ever, tenants and property owners need to openly communicate and maintain strong working relationships to keep businesses on both sides operating,” says John Duda, President of Real Estate Management Services at Colliers Canada. “Property owners should do all they can to enable tenants to remain open or reopen safely, and they should actively participate in government and industry back-to-work committees to ensure that this transition occurs safely and efficiently. In addition, it is critical that tenants and owners make decisions based on knowledge rather than assumptions, especially in relation to the availability and uptake of government assistance programs.”

Government support programs welcome, but further information required

On April 24, the Government of Canada announced the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses. Though the program introduces measures to provide immediate and effective support for Canadian businesses, there are several areas that require further clarity before landlords can make an informed decision about whether they would participate in the CECRA program. 

“We are pleased that the Canadian government is undertaking initiatives to help mitigate the financial impact of COVID-19 on small businesses. However, landlords and tenants are facing pending rent deadlines with some uncertainty, as there are landlords who have indicated that they are still waiting for more program details before deciding to apply for CECRA,” says Duda. “More information is needed in a number of important areas, including how the program will treat landlords who have agreed to revised rental payment terms for April or May with their tenants, when the loan funds will be available and how this program will be rolled out for each province.”

Duda added that increased government support, especially at the municipal level, and safely easing the restrictions on non-essential businesses are two higher impact items that could mitigate the trajectory of May rent relief requests.