Financial Assistance for Small Businesses Renting Commercial Property During COVID-19 – CECRA
The government of Canada recently introduced the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program for small businesses with the goal of providing much needed support for small businesses experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. The CECRA program will be administered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) on behalf of the Government of Canada
The CMHC will provide forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners.
- The loans will cover 50% of the gross rent owed by impacted small business tenants during the 3-month period of April, May, and June 2020
- The property owner will be responsible for no less than half of the remaining 50% of the gross rent payments (paying no less than 25% of the total)
- The small business tenant will be responsible for no more than half of the remaining 50% of the gross rent payments (paying no more than 25% of the total)
- The deadline to apply for the CECRA program is August 31, 2020
The CECRA program loans will be forgiven if the property owner complies with all applicable program terms and conditions including to not seek to recover rent abatement amounts after the program is over.
To qualify for the CECRA program the commercial property owner must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- You own property that generates rental revenue from commercial real property located in Canada.
- You are the property owner of the commercial real property where the impacted small business tenants are located.
- You have a mortgage loan secured by the commercial real property, occupied by one or more small business tenants.
- You have entered or will enter into a rent reduction agreement for the period of April, May, and June 2020, that will reduce impacted small business tenant’s rent by at least 75%.
- Your rent reduction agreement with impacted tenants includes a moratorium on eviction for the period of April, May, and June 2020.
- You have declared rental income on your tax return (personal or corporate) for tax years 2018 and/or 2019.
Impacted small business tenants are businesses, non-profit and charitable organizations who:
- Pay no more than $50,000 in monthly gross rent per location (as defined by a valid and enforceable lease agreement),
- Generate no more than $20 million in gross annual revenues, calculated on a consolidated basis (at the ultimate parent level), and
- Have temporarily ceased operations or has experienced at least a 70% decline in pre-COVID-19 revenues.
The steps to receive the CECRA
- Commercial tenants should review their current financial situation to see if they meet the eligibility requirements of the CECRA program.
- Commercial Tenants should communicate with their landlord and inform them that they are an impacted small business tenant as defined by the CECRA program.
- Commercial property owners will then decide if they will be applying for the CECRA program.
- CECRA program details including how funds will be disbursed and how to apply are being finalized and will be available by mid-May.
- Interested parties can sign up on the CMHC website and will get advised when more details are available and when the application process opens.
There are additional support programs that have been introduced by the federal and provincial governments that can be used in conjunction with the CECRA program. As a next step, you are encouraged to consult with your financial planner to determine if you can benefit from these additional support programs that are offered.