Coronavirus: Commercial eviction ban ends, lease terminations begin in Toronto

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Darwin Miranda says the notice appearing on the door of his Muay Thai training gym in Toronto came as a surprise. So did the changed locks, he said.

“It’s not fair for them to do that,” Miranda told Global News, describing what he saw when he arrived at his Augusta Avenue gym earlier this month.

“The landlord never called to let me know he was doing this,” said Miranda, who has run Krudar Muay Thai at the Kensington Market location for about eight years.

Like other small business owners navigating the pandemic, Miranda is behind on his rent. Four months behind, to be exact.

“To have it taken away from him with no help from the government is ridiculous,” said Arif Hirani, one of Miranda’s many clients.

Before the pandemic, as many as 200 students would train at the martial arts studio. Now, under government restrictions aimed at curtailing the spread of COVID-19, it is not allowed to be open for classes.

Until November, the Ontario government would not permit landlords to evict commercial tenants for unpaid rent. Once the moratorium ended, Miranda’s landlord terminated his lease and put the building up for sale.

“We’re not in the business to support business, we’re in the business to do business,” said John Dacosta, who said his 78-year-old mother owns the building in which Miranda and another leaseholder are tenants.

“I don’t see how he’s going to continue and pay the back-rent,” Dacosta told Global News in a telephone interview.

Dacosta acknowledged that his family did not apply for rent relief under the federal government’s Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA). Under the program, landlords would reduce a small business tenant’s rent by 75 per cent: a tenant would have been required to pay 25 per cent while the governments of Ontario and Canada would share the remaining 50 per cent through a forgivable loan.

Dacosta contends that his mother depends on income from the commercial rent for her retirement. City taxes on the property are in excess of $60,000 yearly, he told Global News.