I'm A Landlord Who Waived April Rent. I'll Do It Until July If I Need To.

Jon Shell

As told to HuffPost associate editor Connor Garel

I’m a landlord. It’s not my full-time job, but I own a semi-detached triplex in Toronto’s Little Italy, where I have eight tenants. There’s a single mom with two kids, a couple on the first floor and three other tenants.

Everyone should contribute as much as they can in a public health crisis like COVID-19.

I don’t know much about their personal situations. I don’t know their salaries. A few of them might be freelancers. What I do know is that, in an economic crisis like the one brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, tenants are some of the most vulnerable people out of all of us. That’s why I’ve decided to waive rent for April.

And probably May.

June, too, if it gets that far.

About two weeks ago, when people started getting laid off, I started getting pretty anxious. Social distancing was costing small businesses their income, and those losses threatened to close them altogether. Thousands have lost their paycheque entirely. Some 500,000 Canadians applied for employment insurance just last week, and that figure has since ballooned to an estimated 1 million. I just couldn’t understand how they would pay rent.

If rent were simply postponed, you’d come out of this thing with between $4,500 and $7,500 in debt.

So I wrote a blog post, “9 Things Canadian Governments Can Do To Avoid A ‘Social Distancing’ Economic Tragedy.” In it, one of the goals of my proposed solutions was to reduce, or altogether eliminate, people’s rent. Then I asked myself: But what can I do?

As it turned out, this was something, as a landlord, I decided I could afford.

‘Everyone with profit ought to figure out a way to use it to help other people’

I’m very lucky that the money I make on my rental property is extra income I can get by without. 

Altogether, my tenancies produce about three months of profit a year, at about $6,500 a month. That money is better left in my tenants’ hands than in my bank account, right now. So, on March 18, I wrote them and told them I was waiving rent.

Housing costs were at emergency levels long before the COVID-19 crisis came along.

This isn’t something...

Continue reading on HuffPost