REGINA -- A ban suspending residential evictions due to rent payments has caused landlords in the province to be out approximately 30 million dollars, according to the Saskatchewan Landlord Association.

“All of our members have arrears of different numbers depending on their size and how many units they have, but approximately $30 million spread across landlords in Saskatchewan,” said Cameron Choquette, executive officer of the Saskatchewan Landlord Association (SKLA).

Choquette said in June, about eight per cent of tenants did not pay their rent, adding up to roughly six million dollars in arrears. 

That’s a slight decrease from May, with saw 10 per cent of tenants not pay rent. In April, Choquette said 20 per cent of tenants did not pay their rent. 

He credits the decrease to the reopening of the economy. 

As the Reopen Saskatchewan Plan unfolds, landlords in the province say it’s time for the eviction ban to end so they can get back to business as usual. 

“If everything else is safe to open - restaurants and clothing stores and everything else - then they should allow us to evict people for non-payment,” said Edna Keep, the owner of 3D Real Estate Investments.

Keep said many of her tenants struggling to pay rent have been communicating well, and have been willing to work with property managers to figure out a plan that works for them. But she feels there are some who are taking advantage of the payment freeze.

“We’ve been very proactive about reaching out to our tenants and letting them know their options,” Keep said. “Yet some of them are still refusing to pay their rent.” 

Keep said although the government has helped landlords in some aspects like mortgage deferrals, many are still losing out from interest charges and other bills.

The SKLA said the province has forgotten about landlords throughout the pandemic. 

“We feel that the government has unfairly put $30 million of housing costs on the back of private owners,” Choquette said. “It’s our position that the government should support landlords either through financial assistance or by allowing us to manage our properties according to legislation by removing this eviction ban.”

Justice Minister Don Morgan said the province is looking into lifting the eviction ban, but he said specific dates or timelines haven’t been set yet. 

He said the government is listening closely to what landlords are saying. 

“We want to make sure that we don’t do something that jeopardizes a tenant’s ability to maintain their housing,” Morgan said. “We’re working on things. We’re listening a lot right now.” 

Choquette said if the eviction ban remains in place throughout the summer, some landlords will be forced to sell their property or declare bankruptcy. He said that would impact both the availability and the affordability of rental properties in Saskatchewan.

The eviction ban does state that tenants who can’t pay their rent during the pandemic are still expected to pay in back in full once the state of emergency is lifted.