Worried about eviction? Not sure if you can evict someone? Here's where things stand in Alberta

The global COVID-19 pandemic has landed thousdands of Albertans suddenly out of work and potentially facing the loss of their homes because they can't pay the rent.

And that's led to some, including Opposition Leader Rachel Notley, to call for a moratorium on evictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

So, what are the rules in Alberta governing the relationship between renters and landlords? And what, if anything, has changed in light of the public health crisis?

Here is some need-to-know information for renters and landlords in Alberta:

Are there any special measures to protect renters during the crisis?

Not so far, but  the Alberta government has said renters can look for relief from compassionate landlords, while noting it could take several weeks before eviction notices are adjudicated by a provincial tribunal. 

Premier Jason Kenney said the government is considering a short-term stay on eviction enforcement, but offered no immediate plan at a news conference on Monday.

What is the position of the industry group representing landlords?

The Alberta Residential Landlord Association, which represents over 75,000 rental units in the province, urged its members to suspend eviction during the crisis in a statement posted to its website Friday.

Gerry Baxter, executive director of the Calgary Residential Rental Association, said it's important to keep the lines of communication open. 

"The important thing is for those tenants to go and talk to their landlord, go and talk to them now if it looks like you're not going to be able to pay your rent," he said, adding that a payment plan is one good option.

Rental giant Boardwalk says it will work with every tenant facing financial hardship during the pandemic on a case-by-case basis. 

What are the rules governing when a renter can be evicted?

A landlord can evict a tenant on reasonable grounds, and the tenant has the right to dispute the eviction, except for non-payment of rent, says the Alberta government on its Service Alberta website.

In such cases, the landlord must give the tenant 14 days notice.

In the event of dispute, either party can turn to the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service. Because of COVID-19 concerns, all hearings are being conducted by telephone.

"Non-urgent applications, such as for damages or return of the security deposit, are being received, but will not be scheduled for hearing while COVID-19 is being managed," the province says.

Where can I find more information?

The Consumer Contact Centre can provide information on many topics related to landlords and tenants. Call 780-427-4088 or toll free 1-877-427-4088.

You can also refer to the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) Handbook.