As feds audit landlords over rent aid, businesses fall through cracks of new program


OTTAWA — Documents given to parliamentarians show federal officials audited at least 127 landlords who received aid through a program designed to ease rent costs for small businesses.

That was the figure as of Dec. 10, at which time the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation says just over one-quarter had been “resolved.”

The federal housing agency didn’t say how many more audits have been conducted since.

The CMHC says in a statement the reviews are being done as needed to make sure tenants benefited from the Liberals’ first try at the commercial rent-relief program and that landlords were compliant with the terms of the program.

The original program provided landlords with forgivable loans that covered half of rent for eligible small businesses, but required property owners to waive a further one-quarter of what they were otherwise owed.

The Liberals revamped the program because of low take-up, but a group representing thousands of small businesses across the country says the new version isn’t living up to expectations either because it suffers from a lack of visibility and eligibility issues.