Rent Relief Program FAQs

COVID-19 – CMHC Granville Island Rent Relief Program FAQs

As of September 14th, 2020

The following FAQs and responses represent the best information available at the time of writing. Please be sure to refer to the Granville Island administration website and CMHC Tenant Memos, if available to you, for updated information. 

How is CMHC Granville responding to COVID-19 tenant rent relief concerns?   

CMHC and its fellow Head Lease tenants have taken a measured, proactive approach to respond to tenant hardships due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Beginning in March, CMHC offered its direct tenants rent deferral, and submitted a request to the Federal Government, firstly to secure emergency funding for ongoing island operational expenses, and secondly to enable CMHC to develop an on-island rent relief program in the form of reduced rents for those facing financial hardship. Many head lease tenants offered similar support to their own tenants.  

In early July, and following the May announcement of CECRA (a rent relief program available to private Landlords across the country, including those on Granville Island), the emergency funding for Granville Island was approved. CMHC then worked in consultation with various industry organizations and the tenant community to assess impacts to Granville Island’s operations as well as CMHC and Granville Island tenant revenues as a result of Covid-19.  With the support of the Granville Island Council, CMHC developed a rent relief program for its direct tenants, the details of which were announced to the tenant community on September 8th 2020, with applications becoming available to tenants on September 14th 2020.  

The CMHC-Granville Island Rent Relief program took into consideration three major factors:  

  1. Alignment with CECRA rent reductions as available to Canadian businesses across the country through Federal funding; 
  1. Additional considerations for adjustments to rent reductions, thresholds and eligibility based on the seasonal and tourism-based nature of Granville Island, and the additional costs  that would be incurred in the event of mass vacancy; and  
  1. The mandate of CMHC to ensure the ongoing success of Granville Island. 

(Note that CMHC is required to manage and operate Granville Island on a financially self-sustaining model, meaning its annual expenses and capital projects must be funded through on-island rent and parking revenues collected by CMHC.) 

When will the rent relief program be launched? 

The CMHC-Granville Island Rent Relief program was announced to the tenant community on September 8th, 2020. Application forms will be available online as of Monday, September 14th 2020. All current program information is located under Current Tenants tab. This includes the most current FAQ list, the online application forms, and an example of the Rent Reduction Agreement, which tenants will be emailed directly for review and signature once they have been determined as eligible for the program.  

  
CMHC will continue to provide an opportunity for tenant Q&As related to the program and application process via the already established bi-weekly group tenant calls. If you would like to sign up for a tenant call, please email [email protected]

What is the Application Process? How do I submit my application?  

There is an online application form, including a Tenant Attestation and Annual Revenue Analysis form, which must be completed and submitted online in order for CMHC to determine tenant eligibility for the program. Application forms must be completed on the Granville Island Administration website  under the Current Tenants tab. 
  
Please note, our office continues to be closed to tenants and the general public as CMHC is currently mandating its employees across the country who are able to work remotely to do so. This protocol is in place to limit in-person interactions between staff, tenants and the general public where the work allows. As such, all interactions with Granville Island tenants regarding the rent relief program will be done via email, phone or skype for business. 

How to contact the Granville Island Administration Office:  

Phone Inquiries: 604-666-6655 

Email Inquiries: [email protected]  

 
  
How long will it take for tenants to find out if they have been approved for CMHC-Granville Island rent relief program? If approved, when will the rent reductions take effect? 

 
CMHC anticipates receiving over 200 applications, which must be individually reviewed by a small group of staff members. At this time we cannot provide a set turnaround time, though we expect the first wave of applications to be reviewed, and at minimum a confirmation of eligibility to be received, within 30 days of a fully completed tenant application. In the event there is missing or incomplete information, confirmation of eligibility will be contingent on the tenant responding with the required information in a timely manner. 
  
If approved, CMHC will make best efforts to ensure the applicable rent reductions are applied to the tenant’s account, and inform the tenant of new charges. Until such time, tenants who are currently deferring their rent payments with CMHC will continue to be able to do so. 

Will I have to fill anything else out online on an ongoing basis? 

Yes. Tenants will be required to report ongoing monthly revenues as a condition of enrollment in the program. This is to ensure we can track proper use of the program, and monitor tenant performance throughout the period for market research and for reporting related to our government funding. Further terms and conditions will be included the forms.  

 
What is the Reduced Rent and Payback Period?  

If approved, tenants must pay their reduced rent on the 1st day of each month on a go-forward basis. Any outstanding rents from April 1st 2020 to the date of enrollment in the program should be paid as soon as possible and by no later than the end of the program which concluded on March 31st 2021. An extended payback period until September 30th 2021 may be permitted in the event of ongoing financial hardship. 

How much rent relief is being offered under the program, and for how long?  

Period of Rent Relief: April 1st 2020 – March 31st 2021 (retroactive once approved) 

Eligibility: Direct tenants of CMHC 

Criteria: Tenants who have an actual & projected annual gross revenue loss of between 30%-100%, compared to the same period of the 12 months prior 

Rent Reduction Available (for those who qualify): 75% reduction on gross rent; with the exception of tenants (who are registered non-profits as of March 31st 2020 or earlier)  who are largely represented by performing arts groups who are unable to operate their venues and programs. Those tenants will be provided 100% gross rent reduction.  

Application Process: The online application form, including a Tenant Attestation and Annual Revenue Analysis form, must be completed and submitted online on the Granville Island Administration website. This allows CMHC to determine tenant eligibility for the program. If eligible, tenants will be provided with a Rent Reduction Agreement for review and signature to finalize enrollment. 

Payback period: Enrolled tenants must pay their reduced rent on the 1st day of each month on a go-forward basis. Any outstanding rents from April 1st 2020 to the date of enrollment in the program should be paid as soon as possible and by no later than the end of the program which concluded on March 31st 2021. An extended payback period until September 30th 2021 may be permitted in the event of ongoing financial hardship. 

Which Granville Island businesses have access to the CMHC-Granville Island rent relief program? 

Tenants who have direct commercial lease agreements with CMHC on Granville Island. 

Which Granville Island businesses have access to rent relief through CECRA?   

Those tenants who have commercial lease agreements with privately operated buildings on Granville Island are able to access CECRA through their private Landlords, where eligible. Privately operated buildings on Granville Island include: Creekhouse, Maritime Market & Marina, Kids Market, Foreshore and Pier 32.  As a Federal Crown Corporation Landlord, CMHC is unable to apply for CECRA on behalf of its direct tenants.  

If I’m not a direct tenant of CMHC, but have a business on Granville Island, how can I access rent relief? 

Privately operated buildings on Granville Island, often referred to as head lease tenants, do have the ability to apply for CECRA on their tenants’ behalf, where eligible, or may be offering other means of support to their direct tenants. These buildings include: Creekhouse, Maritime Market & Marina, Kids Market, Foreshore and Pier 32. 

What are the eligibility requirements for the CMHC-Granville Island rent relief program? 

Please refer to the Rent Reduction Agreement and Tenant Attestation which are located under the Current Tenants drop down menu on the Granville Island Administration website.  

Will mandated business closures or reduced hours of operation affect tenant eligibility for the program?  

Since March, 2020, tenants have had the autonomy to make decisions regarding reduced service or closures based on their individual businesses and circumstances, especially as the low season approaches; however, tenants must demonstrate they are making commercially reasonable efforts to operate and maximize their revenue earning potential during the rent relief period. CMHC is supporting the promotion of Granville Island as being safely open for business, and is communicating this information to visitors on their websites, and through social media, radio and outdoor marketing campaigns. We encourage tenants to do the same for their individual businesses.  

All businesses are required to seek out and follow the advice of local and national health organizations and are required under their lease agreements to abide by all municipal, provincial, federal and any other applicable governing bodies in relation to their business operations, which include those related to COVID-19.   

If approved for CMHC Granville Island rent relief program, when will I know what my new rent charges will be? 

If approved, CMHC will ensure the applicable rent reductions are applied to the tenant’s account, and will reconcile the tenant’s account to adjust for paid or deferred rent for the period from April 1st 2020 – March 31st 2021.   Letters will then be provided to the tenant confirming the reduced monthly gross rent amount, and any balances owing for remaining deferred rent. Response times will vary based on the number of active applications being processed.  Until such time the information is issued by CMHC, tenants who are currently deferring their monthly rent payments may continue to do so. 

Tenant eligibility will initially be determined based on actual and projected future monthly gross revenues submitted at the time of the application.  The revenue loss thresholds will be reconciled by CMHC following the end of the program based on actual annual gross revenues for the period from April 1st 2020 – March 31st 2021 and any amounts received for such period from business interruption insurance proceeds and/or non-repayable proceeds of federal or provincial government programs targeted at commercial rent assistance instituted in response to the COVID-19 emergency. 

What happens if there is a balance owing on my account after rent relief adjustments have been processed? 

For those tenants who are eligible for the CMHC-Granville Island Rent Relief Program, payment terms will be provided both for adjusted owed rent to date, and monthly payments due on the 1st of each month.  

If you have been deferring your monthly rent, and have qualified for the 75% rent reduction, there will be a balance owing on your account for previous months of rent starting from April 1st 2020, with monthly reduced rent due on the 1st day of each month on a go forward basis. This information will be communicated to you by the accounting department. If you have any questions about the repayment of a balance owing, please email [email protected].  

What happens if there is a credit on my account after rent relief adjustments have been processed? 

If you have been paying your monthly rent in full from April 1st 2020 and qualify for the rent relief program, and in the event an account reconciliation results in a credit, the credit will remain on the tenant’s account. This credit will be applied to future monthly rent amounts due within the period of April 1st 2020 – March 31st 2021. If you have any questions about a credit balance on your account, please email [email protected].  

If Granville Island has received a full year of Federal funding for operating expenses, why aren’t all tenants being provided 100% rent relief?  

Under regular circumstances, operational expenses for Granville Island are largely, but not entirely, funded by commercial rent collected from Granville Island businesses who are direct tenants of CMHC. In addition, due to the pandemic, Granville Island is experiencing additional costs. For example, we have elected to put a hold on pay parking, another source of operational funding, as a further incentive for visitation. Free parking will continue to March 31st 2021 so long as parking capacities are not negatively impacted.  The primary purpose of the emergency operational funding is to cover all of Granville Island’s operational expenses incurred from April 1st 2020 – March 31st 2021 to ensure the Island can remain operational for the benefit of tenants and visitors, and secondly to provide rent relief for its direct tenants.  

The CMHC-Granville Island rent relief program aligns with CECRA’s rent reduction of 75%, as available to small businesses available across Canada, however it is also extended for a full 12-month period to align with the Federal funding period. A further rent reduction of 100% will be available to eligible Granville Island tenants who are registered non-profit organizations as of April 1st 2020 or prior, and use their Leased Premises solely for activities related to their non-profit organization. These non-profit organizations are largely performing arts groups or festival based, are non-operational or minimally operational due to the Provincial ban order on large group gatherings.  

Why are non-profit organizations being provided a larger rent reduction than other tenants?  

The majority of the non-profit organizations with tenancies on Granville Island represent performing arts and festival operations. These groups have been disproportionately affected due to the ongoing Provincial ban on group gatherings of 50 or more persons. This has resulted in the mandated cancellation of performances as well as key fundraising events which have resulted in significant deficits to both operational and fundraising revenues. For this reason, we are offering 100% rent reduction to those tenants who are eligible under the criteria and are registered non-profit organizations as of April 1st 2020 or prior. 

Why is it that CMHC-Granville Island rent relief program has a lower revenue loss threshold than the Federal CECRA program? Doesn’t that create inequality between direct and non-direct tenants on Granville Island? 

Similar to head lease tenants who manage multi-tenanted buildings on Granville Island, CMHC developed its own rent relief program. Based on their unique operational knowledge of their properties as well as the financial circumstances of the property or Landlord, Landlords may choose to offer different rent deferral or rent relief.  Many of the Landlords of the privately operated buildings on Granville Island have also chosen to do so. 

In creating the revenue loss thresholds for eligibility for its direct tenants, CMHC took many factors into consideration. This included the heavy reliance on seasonal tourism, the impact of social distancing and large group gathering bans, the inter-dependence on critical mass of open businesses for the benefit of tenant commerce,  and the additional costs that could be incurred by CMHC as a result of significant vacancy, which could outweigh the cost of the rent relief program as developed. The lower thresholds are meant to provide additional financial support to tenants while they recover over the low season, and as a result, aid in the reduction of permanent business closures. 

Will CMHC be enforcing lease defaults or lease terminations with tenants during the pandemic? 

As long as a tenant is abiding by the terms and conditions outlined in their Lease, Rent Reduction Agreement and Tenant Attestation, they will not be subject to lease termination. CMHC will not issue fines to tenants for reduced tenant operating hours or closure due to staff shortages or other operational impacts related to COVID-19, however, all other Tenant obligations under the lease will remain in effect. This includes payment of rent (either in accordance with their usual lease terms, or the Rent Reduction Agreement, if enrolled), and operating the Leased Premises in accordance with CMHC Rules and Regulations as well as adhering to municipal, provincial and federal legislation, or any other governing body to which the Tenant must adhere. 

For those tenants who are eligible for the CMHC-Granville Island Rent Relief Program, payment terms will be provided both for adjusted owed rent to date, and monthly payments due on the 1st of each month.  

Tenants who do not have a direct lease with CMHC should inquire with their direct private landlord accordingly. Privately operated buildings on Granville Island, often referred to as head lease tenants, include: Creekhouse, Maritime Market & Marina, Kids Market, Foreshore and Pier 32. 

How did CMHC determine the terms and thresholds for the CMHC-Granville Island rent relief program?  

Since March, 2020, we have been hosting group tenant calls with a cross-section of tenants to discuss ways CMHC can support them through the COVID-19 pandemic, one of which is by providing a rent relief program. CMHC has developed its rent relief program firstly based on alignment with the emergency funding request as submitted to the Federal Government in March 2020, which expressed a need to provide rent relief support for tenants for the same period of time, and secondly based on alignment with the 75%  CECRA rent reduction threshold as available to Canadian businesses through Federal Government funding, and adjusted to address additional considerations unique to Granville Island’s operations and mandate. The decision to implement a full year of rent relief, and provide a variance in thresholds for qualification, was based on CMHC acting as a diligent Landlord to assess the cost of additional rent relief for Granville Island tenants against the cost of significantly increased vacancies if the additional rent relief support was not in place.  The terms of this program are meant to maximize use of the federal funding to help retain current tenancies and reduce the increased expenses and lost revenues due to business closures and vacancies.   

Does CMHC have access to government funding to mitigate the negative impacts of COVID-19 to Granville Island’s operational budget or for tenant’s individual operations as affected by COVID-19?  

No, Granville Island operates on a self-funding model and as such CMHC does not have access to government funding, nor does it have access to financing as a typical landlord would. CMHC cannot access grants or other funding that may be available directly to tenants to support operational or capital budget expenses. As revenues collected by CMHC on Granville Island are the only source of revenue for its operating budget, it is also being directly affected by rising rent arrears, the reduction in tenant sales activity and parking revenues directly related to visitation. CMHC is anticipating that this significant loss in revenues related to COVID-19 tenant business impacts will continue through to March 31st 2021 and beyond.   

With reduced revenues from tenant rent and parking, will CMHC reduce services to tenants or visitors of Granville Island due to impacts of COVID-19?  

With the emergency funding provided by the Federal Government, CMHC has the benefit of sustaining service levels to Granville Island for the benefit of tenants and visitors for the duration of the funding which runs from April 1st 2020 – March 31st 2021. CMHC will be monitoring tenant performance and visitation for the balance of the year and may submit an additional request for funding beyond March 31st 2021 if it anticipates that it is critical for ongoing operations.  

Is CMHC posting any other publicly available updates on COVID-19?   

Yes. In addition to this FAQ list, a COVID-19 resource list is posted on the Granville Island Administration website. A direct link to the update can be found here, however, we encourage tenants, staff and visitors to refer to government and health authority resources for the latest directives and updates on public health & safety measures on an ongoing basis.   

Where can I find more information on the CMHC-Granville Island Rent Relief Program? 

All current program information is located on the Granville Island Administration website (admin.granvilleisland.com) under the Current Tenants tab. This includes the online application forms, an example of the Rent Reduction Agreement, which tenants will be emailed directly for review and signature once they have been determined as eligible for the program. This is also where the most current version of an FAQ sheet is located, which will be updated periodically as needed. 

CMHC will continue to provide an opportunity for tenant Q&As related to the program and application process via the already established bi-weekly group tenant calls. If you would like to sign up for a tenant call, please email [email protected]

Who can tenants contact if they have more questions about rent relief?   

If after reviewing the information provided in this FAQ and on the Granville Island Administration website under the Current Tenants you still have additional questions, please reach out to us at [email protected].   

Who can the general public or media contact if they have questions for CMHC related to rent relief on Granville Island? 

General Public Inquiries can be directed to [email protected]  

Media Inquiries can be directed to Lisa Ono, Manager Public Affairs & Programming at [email protected]