Eviction hearings related to missed or late rent, as well as other non-urgent claims, have been suspended immediately.
“We felt it was necessary to provide a clear message to Saskatchewan residents that are currently renting that they will not be evicted if faced economic hardship during the pandemic,” said Don Morgan, the province’s justice minister, at a teleconference on March 26.
Previous eviction orders for non-urgent matters will not be enforced and previously scheduled hearings for non-urgent matters have been cancelled as of March 26.
Eviction hearings will be held in urgent situations where there is a potential risk to health or safety resulting from violence or damage to property. There will also be hearings held for situations where a tenant has been locked out by their landlord or where a landlord has been accused of not providing essential services such as power and water.
Tenants who are unable to pay their rent during the state of emergency will be expected to pay their rent in full once the state of emergency caused by COVID-19 is over.
“This does not make the rent go away,” Morgan said. “All it does is say the person cannot be evicted during this period of time.”
Landlords and tenants are encouraged by the government to communicate with each other about their individual situations so that they can come to mutually agreeable solutions.
When the emergency is over and tenants have to pay the rent they own, Morgan said he urges landlords and tenants to work together to create a payment plan.
“Depending on how many months it goes the rent will probably have to be spread over several months to give people an opportunity to catch up.”
The justice minister said there was minimal consultations with landlords and their representative organizations before suspending evictions. He said the government looked at what other jurisdictions were doing.
A day before, the provincial New Democrats called on the provincial government to suspend evictions during this time.
“One of the key measures that we're asking people to take is to stay home and if they're going to stay home, they need to have a home,” said Ryan Meili, the NDP’s leader, on a teleconference call March 25.