Nearly three quarters of small businesses weren’t able to pay their full rent payments in June and an even greater proportion say that they won’t be able to come up with enough money to make July’s rent, according to a survey of hundreds of commercial tenants.
The Broadview Danforth BIA has been conducting monthly surveys in order to get a handle on the impact that COVID-19 related closures have had on the ability of small businesses’ to pay rent.
The latest survey, which also included businesses in Ottawa and Guelph, found that 72 per cent of respondents did not pay all of the rent that they owed in June, up from 63 per cent in May and 50 per cent in April.
In fact, nearly a third of all respondents (31.4 per cent) were unable to pay any rent in June and only about 13 per cent were able to come up with at least half of the rent owed.
Looking ahead to July, 78 per cent of businesses said they do not anticipate being able to come up with their full rent payments, though a greater proportion said they believe they can come up with at least half of the money due (18 per cent).
While more than half of small businesses surveyed (51.5 per cent) said that their landlords have made arrangements with them for the payment of rent during the pandemic when requested, more than a third (35.8 per cent) said that their landlords have been unwilling to work with them.
The survey also revealed that the majority of landlords are continuing to refuse to apply for Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program, which was launched with the intention of helping small businesses stay afloat during their forced closure but has been criticized for relying on landlords to apply.
About 61 per cent of the businesses who responded to the survey and indicated that they would qualify for the program said that their landlord has not applied.
A separate survey of 92 landlords, meanwhile, revealed that 52 per cent of those who qualify have not applied for the program but out of those landlords nearly half (44 per cent) said they still plan to apply.
In recent weeks, Premier Doug Ford has repeatedly called on "greedy landlords" to take part in the rent relief program and has threatened to take action.
Ford, however, has so far ignored calls to introduce a ban on commercial evictions.
The tenant survey found that as a result about one in three businesses (29 per cent) are concerned about being locked out over non-payment of rent.
“I've asked, I've begged the landlords to work with the tenants. These are struggling businesses. These are small family-run businesses in a lot of cases and they are hurting right now,” Ford said on Wednesday at Queen’s Park. “They are just refusing to do it. Well what they are doing is they are testing me and that is going to be the wrong thing to do."
The survey was based on the responses of 427 small businesses. A margin of error was not provided.