N.W.T. announces new rent repayment regulations to help tenants, landlords

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Tenants in the Northwest Territories who are behind in rent will now have the ability to start a repayment plan.

R.J. Simpson, minister of Justice, announced in a news release Wednesday new rent repayment plan regulations, which will help ensure tenants have a "reasonable" amount of time to catch up on payments accumulated since March 18, 2020 to Jan. 31.

The new regulations under the Residential Tenancies Act will replace those put in place on April 9, 2020, the release said.

Starting Feb. 1, landlords and tenants have one year to enter into a repayment plan, and either landlords or tenants may initiate it. Tenants won't have to make a first payment until at least 30 days after the date a repayment plan is given.

Prior repayment agreements that cover the total amount of rent owing remain in place and are not cancelled by this new regulation, the territory said.

In April, regulations were announced to allow tenants to defer rental payments if their incomes were negatively impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We want to take a measured approach to tenancy rules and give people advance notice so they can plan to pay back any owing rent," Simpson said in a statement.

"These changes will help tenants maintain their housing and provide them with a 12 month period to gradually pay back any unpaid rent. We encourage landlords and tenants to work together during this difficult time.

The plans must set out several items including the date the repayment period starts, the total amount of rent still owed, the amount the tenant must pay each month, with the total owing divided into equal instalments and the due date of each instalment.

The new regulations apply to situations where tenants were unable to pay their rent due to job loss or significantly reduced income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and now face accumulated arrears in rent.

The Department of Justice told CBC in an email that the protection under the current COVID-19 regulations will stay in place for those tenants who have given written notice to their landlord that their income has been directly affected by the pandemic.

"On the rare occasion that we have received an application from a landlord to evict a tenant who has given that notice, the application has been suspended until the Regulations are repealed or replaced," Simpson said.

Since March 14, 2020, there have been seven evictions in the N.W.T. Simpson said the number of individuals displaced is not recorded.