Understanding the support available for mortgage and rent payment difficulties

The impact of COVID-19 has been difficult for all Canadians. Even more so for those with added financial stresses from lost jobs or reduced hours.

Job loss or reduced hours can create serious difficulties for renters and homeowners alike. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has resources and information available for homeowners and renters affected by the pandemic. There is also information available from the Manitoba

As we all continue to navigate the impact of COVID-19 on all aspects of our lives, more aid is being made available to support those of us who need it most. Following are some guidelines about the types of aid available to homeowners and renters:


Are you dealing with mortgage payment difficulties?

CMHC’s Dealing with Mortgage Payment Difficulties discusses the 3 steps you should take for resolving financial difficulties:

• Talk to your mortgage professional — To increase the chance of successfully managing your financial situation through early intervention, call your mortgage professional at the first sign of financial difficulty and ask them about information on the options available for managing your financial situation.

It is important to and keep your mortgage professional informed as circumstances evolve.

• Clarify the financial picture — In order to help your mortgage professional fully understand your financial situation, before meeting with them, prepare a detailed list of financial obligations including any credit cards, loans, household bills with the amounts owing and their due dates. Be sure to include information about your current income, savings accounts, investments, and any other assets.

• Stay informed — The Government of Canada has a number of online resources available to help you manage your finances including Take Charge of Your Debts — an online tool designed to help you understand debt problems, and includes information on making a budget, budget counselling, collection agencies, credit, and credit repair. You can visit this site.

Your mortgage professional wants to establish and maintain a positive relationship with you over the long term, and is equipped with the knowledge and tools to help you deal with the temporary financial setbacks that you may be facing.

For mortgages incurred by CMHC, they offer lenders flexibilities to help them as they work on a solution for your unique financial situation.


Am I eligible for a mortgage payment deferral?

You might be. Contact your mortgage professional to find out if you are eligible for a mortgage payment deferral. The deferral is an agreement between you and your lender where mortgage payments are temporarily paused or suspended and repaid later. Mortgage payment deferrals are in place to help ease the financial burden for a specific duration of time.

Since your mortgage is an agreement between you and your lender, they will assess if you are eligible for the deferral. They can also tell you what options are available to you.

Your mortgage professional is there for the long haul. They want to establish and maintain a positive relationship with you. Your lender is trained, equipped and ready to help you deal with
the temporary financial setbacks that you may be facing — including those related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For CMHC-insured mortgages, they provide your lender with the tools and the flexibility they need to make timely decisions when helping you to find a solution for your unique financial situation.

The tools that may be available to you include:

• Short-term mortgage payment deferral — Your lender may agree to pause or suspend your mortgage payments for a certain amount of time.

• Extending the original repayment period (amortization) — An extension to your original amortization period can lower your monthly mortgage payments.

• Adding any missed payments (arrears) to the mortgage balance — Your lender may be able to add missed payments to your mortgage balance and spread them over the remaining mortgage repayment period.

• Moving from a variable to a fixed interest rate mortgage. Converting a
variable interest rate mortgage to a fixed interest rate mortgage in order to protect you from a sudden interest rate increase, should one occur.

• Special payment arrangement. There may be a special payment arrangement unique to your particular financial situation.

CMHC will consider other alternatives proposed by the mortgage professional to resolve or avoid mortgage payment default. In every case, the options available will depend upon your individual financial circumstances.


Are you unable to pay your rent?

Rental housing falls under provincial jurisdiction. Provinces and territories are working to address this issue — with many provinces already announcing measures to suspend evictions.

The Manitoba government has made temporary amendments to The Residential Tenancies Act to address the social and economic impacts on landlords and tenants due to COVID-19. Rent increases are temporarily frozen from April 1 and later. Late fees are prohibited for failure to pay rent during this time.

Landlords are prohibited from issuing a notice of termination other than for impairment of safety or unlawful activities that pose an immediate health and safety risk. Non-urgent eviction hearings are also postponed effective March 24. These temporary changes will remain in effect until they are repealed by proclamation.


Do I have to pay my rent if my income has been affected by COVID-19 and I can’t be evicted?

A tenant is still obligated to pay their rent in full and on time. If a tenant fails to pay rent on the date specified on their tenancy agreement, a landlord cannot charge late fees regardless of whether the ability to charge late fees is included in the tenancy agreement. Landlords are also prohibited from issuing a notice of termination other than for impairment of safety or unlawful activities that pose an immediate health and safety risk. If a tenant has not paid their rent, a landlord may still initiate an application for an Order of Possession for non- payment of rent once the suspension is lifted. Hearings for Orders of Possession for non- payment of rent will be scheduled once the suspension is lifted.

If you can’t pay your rent on time, talk to your landlord right away to see if alternative payment arrangements can be made. Try to come up with a payment plan that you both agree with and set out the agreement in writing. Try to keep supporting documentation, like a Record of Employment or proof of EI claim in case it is needed.


I received a notice of rent increase that took effect on February 1, 2020. Do I still need to pay the increase now that rent increases have been frozen?

Only rent increases scheduled to take effect on April 1 or later are frozen. If the rent increase took effect before April 1, tenants are required to pay the amount that they were given three months written notice.

More information on Manitoba’s response to COVID-19 can be found here.

For more detailed information and to help you stay up-to-date on CMHC’s most recent COVID-19 updates you can visit this site.