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The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) was recently announced and will replace the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program. The CERS will be similar to the CECRA in the sense that it’ll provide rent relief for small business owners, but the updated version is much better since it allows you to bypass landlords for direct relief. This new benefit will be retroactive to September 27, 2020.

The CERS will cover up to 65 per cent of rent or mortgage interest payments if a business has seen a decline in revenue by at least 70 per cent. Even if your business revenue has declined by less than 70 per cent, you may still qualify for a decreased version of the CERS. 

If your business is forced to temporarily shutdown due to mandatory orders, then you could get funding up to 90 per cent of your rent or mortgage interest payments. It’s pretty clear that the CERS can be beneficial, so make sure you know how to apply for CERS and how much CERS pays. 

CERS eligibility

To qualify for the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, you need to meet the following conditions.

  • You had a CRA business number on September 27, 2020
    • or You had a payroll account on March 15, 2020, or another person or partnership made payroll remittances on your behalf
    • or You purchased the business assets of another person or partnership who meets the above conditions
  • You are an eligible business, charity, or non-profit
  • You experienced a drop in revenue
  • You have eligible expenses

CERS claim periods which you can apply

Similar to other COVID-19 government benefits, the CERS operates under specific time periods which you can apply. The following periods have been announced:

  • September 27 to October 24, 2020 (can apply now)
  • October 25 to November 21, 2020 (can apply as of Nov. 30)
  • November 22 to December 19, 2020 (can apply as of Dec. 23)

Note that a separate application is required for each period.

Expenses you can claim

The CERS only covers a portion of eligible expenses during the claim periods. There are set maximums in place so you’ll never be 100% covered. The following are expenses you can claim.

You can essentially claim any property that’s related to your business. E.g. office or store. However, you can’t claim your primary residence under the CERS even if you operate your business out of it. Rental properties also wouldn’t apply.

The maximum amount you can claim per period is $75,000 per business location or $300,000 total for all locations.

How much does CERS pay?

The payout from the CERS depends on your rent or mortgage interest payments and how much business revenue you’ve lost. If your business was shut down due to a public health order, you would be eligible for an additional 25 per cent top-up.

The formal CERS pay calculation is as follows:

Revenue declineCERS Benefit
70%+65%
50% - 69%40% + (revenue drop - 50%) x 1.25
Up to 49%Revenue drop x 0.8

If you don’t want to do the math, there’s a calculator on the official website.

How to apply for CERS?

To apply for the CERS, you need to go through your My Business Account via the CRA or you can register for Represent a Client. Once logged in, you’ll need to review your business information. Create a CERS number via your My Business Account and set up your direct deposit information if you haven’t already.

Your formal CERS application is done through your My Business Account.

Assuming you have direct deposit set up, you’ll get your funds between 3 to 8 days after filing. Any money that you’re not eligible for needs to be returned.

Don’t forget about the CEBA

The CERS is just one program that is aimed to help small business owners. You could also potentially take advantage of the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA). This program has been very popular since it allowed businesses to borrow up to $40,000 to keep things going. As long as they met certain conditions, 25% of the loan was forgiven. Under the new CEBA rules, up to $20,000 is forgivable as long as you meet certain conditions.

Business credit cards

Another option to help you manage your expenses is to apply for one of the best business credit cards in Canada. To be clear, credit cards should only be used if you’re able to pay off the full balance every month. When used responsibly, you can take advantage of the points you’ll earn and the additional benefits that it comes with such as longer periods where you don’t need to pay interest.

Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) | How to Apply for CERS
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About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi

47 Comments

  1. Avatar Andrew Sood on October 13, 2020 at 2:52 PM

    Apparently they say about 128000 tenants were able to receive help through a landlord who was willing to apply. My major concern is that under this new program these tenants are going to have to re-apply which is not right.



    • Avatar Barry Choi on October 13, 2020 at 2:55 PM

      Andrew,

      I agree that it’s possible that people will be able to apply twice. Hopefully most people are honest, but it’s really just an honour system.

      They may get caught later since there will be a record, but that might not matter to them if they fold the business.



      • Avatar Annette Wolf on October 20, 2020 at 11:19 AM

        Hello,
        I would very much appreciate if you would advise when the CERS application is available and where to find it. My business is in rather dire straits and is unable to pay full rent. As of October 1st rent payment there is no coverage through the former rent subsidy program.



        • Avatar Debbie on November 2, 2020 at 6:03 PM

          Hello
          I would love this information too as I too couldn’t pay my full rent for October or November – hoping CERS is up and running soon



    • Avatar Jeff Toews on October 22, 2020 at 1:55 PM

      The tenant should put the work into applying, qualification terms and conditions might be different than CECRA and many businesses have seen a 70-100% recovery. Landlords had to navigate complex applications on behalf of tenants that only had to sign simple attestations. 9 out of 10 tenants that I dealt with that they thought they qualified didn’t actually after a simple check of their financials that they provided for the Landlord to do a basic level of due diligence These handouts come at a significant cost to us in the future and should be disbursed with some due diligence.



  2. Avatar Andrew Sood on October 13, 2020 at 3:05 PM

    Barry thanks for the quick reply. Maybe what I meant to say is, it’s not fair that the tenant(s) who have already been approved under the landlords that applied on their behalf to have to go through the whole process again. The Federal government should allow those applications to continue AND now allow tenants who could not get funding due to an uncooperative landlord to have this nee option



    • Avatar Barry Choi on October 13, 2020 at 4:07 PM

      Andrew,

      My apologies for misreading your original content. I see your point about it being a pain to go through the process again. Maybe it was a way for the government to requalify everyone? Some businesses may be back on their feet and may not need the assistance anymore. I do like how the government stepped up to offer support, but I am concerned about how Canadians are going to pay for everything in the long run.



      • Avatar Ash daoud on October 14, 2020 at 11:18 PM

        Hi berry can you send me an email when the cers programme application is available to us (tanents )
        Much appreciated



      • Avatar Debbie on November 2, 2020 at 6:09 PM

        Great Blog Barry As it’s nice to connect with other small business owners. Fingers crossed the CERS is available soon as I’m not sure how long my landlord will accept my low rent payments



  3. Avatar Tracy on October 14, 2020 at 12:06 AM

    Hi,
    My landlord did not to help apply for April, May, June, july Aug. Sept. rent relief. Can I apply through CERS?
    Thanks



    • Avatar Barry Choi on October 14, 2020 at 6:10 AM

      Hi Tracy,

      The government has not released the full info yet so we do not know if you can apply retroactively.



    • Avatar Komal Dhir on October 19, 2020 at 2:16 AM

      I agree. They should really consider letting us apply retroactively until April if our landlords did not apply for us.



  4. Avatar Manny on October 14, 2020 at 2:03 PM

    Hello Barry, when this program is going to be out for us to use it? Thanks in advance



    • Avatar Barry Choi on October 14, 2020 at 2:40 PM

      Manny,

      The government has not given any dates or estimates yet.



  5. Avatar Kyle Schreutelkamp on October 14, 2020 at 6:16 PM

    Hey Barry, we are eager to be a part of the program, our business has had a 60% drop in revenue what do you think the chances are of us being able to apply?



    • Avatar Barry Choi on October 14, 2020 at 8:38 PM

      Kyle,

      The government has said that businesses who had a decreased income would fall under a sliding scale so I would imagine you qualify but at a lower amount. We need to find out the full details from the government.



      • Avatar Jason on December 5, 2020 at 2:14 PM

        Hi.
        I applied for the Cers benifit.
        Once completing September’s period it says at the end that my application will be reviewed within 10 to 15 buisness days.

        Yet threw the Cra website it is saying 3 to 8 days to receive direct deposit after applying.

        It also mentions that payments threw direct deposit start December 10th.

        I havnt recied an email, or nor have I recied any funds.

        Any suggests, or advice would be appreciated.



        • Avatar Jason on December 5, 2020 at 2:16 PM

          Sorry I made a mistake…
          I meant to say payments are recieved starting *December 4th*



  6. Avatar sumaya a hussain on October 15, 2020 at 1:14 PM

    hi
    would you please send me message when cers will open



  7. Avatar J DeBord on October 16, 2020 at 2:47 PM

    Please send me information on cers when available.
    Thanks



  8. Avatar Mohammad on October 16, 2020 at 4:06 PM

    Hello Mr Choi, hope all is well and you are and your loved ones are well and safe.

    I have a new business that was incorporated in March 2020, i got the place before the pandemic and am stuck with it

    am i eligible for the CEBA and/or CERS or any of the business funds that the government is setting forward to businesses?

    thank you



    • Avatar Barry Choi on October 16, 2020 at 4:31 PM

      Mohammad,

      You would likely have to contact the CRA once the official details have been released. There is currently no info about new businesses who have been affected by COVID.



  9. Avatar Robert on October 18, 2020 at 7:49 PM

    Hi

    I own a small restaurant, and we got the commercial rent payments help only during the months of April, May and June, I was not aware that this program was still open. How can I apply for the subsidy for the months of July, August and September. The landlord didn’t mentioned that this program was still available after June, and I have been paying full rent even with our sales declining.

    Thanks



  10. Avatar Peter Perras on October 19, 2020 at 3:59 PM

    Hi Barry, great blog you have. I am a tenant and my business was ordered to shut down by public health. Am I looking at the 90% CERB program? If so, where can I apply? If the application is not yet available, do you know when and where it will be?

    Thank you,
    Peter



    • Avatar Barry Choi on October 19, 2020 at 4:02 PM

      Peter,

      Sorry to hear about your business. There are no details about the CERS available yet.



      • Avatar Peter Perras on October 19, 2020 at 4:24 PM

        Thanks for the fast reply Barry. How about the additional $20,000 CEBA program. How could I apply for that?



        • Avatar Barry Choi on October 19, 2020 at 4:34 PM

          Peter,

          CEBA details can be found here – https://ceba-cuec.ca/



    • Avatar Jacquie on October 22, 2020 at 11:23 AM

      The CRB and you can apply through your CRA account.
      Take care



  11. Avatar Larry Swern on October 31, 2020 at 10:02 PM

    The current situation is problematic for everyone including landlords. The delay in setting out the process is creating unnecessary problems for tenant as landlord as neither party is able to make plans. We are now into the second month – October rent and November rent – of no rent relief in place affecting the tenant and lsndlord.



  12. Avatar Ruth Aspinall on November 4, 2020 at 10:58 AM

    Why did the government not have the new rent program in place before the system trough landlords was cancelled. This has left a lot of small bussiness in a dreaful situation. The government needs to get this in place now before a lot of us have to close our doors. Small business employ a lot of people, all of whom will have to go on unemployment.



  13. Avatar JERRY LYNN THOMPSON on November 5, 2020 at 9:29 AM

    Please let me know when the program and application can be put in. I would gratefully appreciate it. In these times everyone is running there businesses day by day hoping it comes
    out fast before we all go under .



  14. Avatar DHARM P Jain on November 6, 2020 at 12:51 PM

    I am a landlord of a tiny commercial unit. We participated in CECRA for March-Sept. 20. The tenant did not pay the rent for Oct. and Nov. 20, and even not willing to pay part of the rent or discounted rent. Tenants’ verdict is ‘you do whatever you want to do.’
    2. The Govt. is introducing Commercial Eviction ban from retrospective effects. Thereby making it very hard for the landlords to even opt for the EVITION option. What you suggest?



  15. Avatar Cchivoiu on November 8, 2020 at 9:05 AM

    The problem with the new program is that landlords can, and will ask, for the full rent, even if the tenant is not able to pay the difference. My store sales have been down by more than 50% and in order to survive, I proposed the landlord to pay 10% of my sales as rent, which accounts for about 50% of the rent. If the CERS calculations are correctly, the program will cover another 30-40% off the rent. The total rent that my landlord will receive brings around 90% of the total rent, which is more than what CECRA was covering. I paid my CECRA contribution every month, but I feel the LL is trying to not be co-operating. My store is just surviving in this pandemic, and closing the store is not an option.



  16. Avatar Marcelo Mena on November 14, 2020 at 6:45 PM

    I thought there was a sign up for businesses to be notified when CERS is available (on a federal site). Do you know where that is? Thank you very much!



    • Avatar Barry Choi on November 14, 2020 at 8:54 PM

      Marcelo,

      I have yet to see any firm details about the CERS.



  17. Avatar Ranvir Sardana on November 23, 2020 at 6:08 PM

    I run my business from home and have done so for several years. I pay heavy mortgage each month. Business is down 80%. Do I qualify for CERS or any other government program?



  18. Avatar Ravi Narula on November 24, 2020 at 1:06 PM

    Hi Barry,
    I own a building which houses a Restaurant, a Bar and a lounge. Based on the information posted today, since it is a rental property I can not claim any shortfalls in my revenues. The lounge has gone out of business in October and as such I have a lease that has been defaulted on. Is there anyway I can recover my losses?



    • Avatar Barry Choi on November 24, 2020 at 1:11 PM

      Ravi,

      Unfortunately not. There are no programs to assist landlords who have tenants that have left.



  19. Avatar Jim on November 24, 2020 at 6:01 PM

    Hi Barry,
    I own a small building and has apartments on second floor and a bar on the first floor. I own the building and my wife is owner of the bar on the first floor. Both building and the bar business each have a separate business number (separate business cooperation each, not individually own).
    With CECRA, I was able to apply as a landlord to get rent subsidy even the relationship with a tenant (my wife) is non-arm’s length. With the new CERS, I am not sure, can my wife apply for rent subsidy to CRA, as her business has been closed since due to Health law, and she wasn’t able to pay the rent on time to me (landlord). Thank you.



    • Avatar JC on November 25, 2020 at 1:18 AM

      I have the same situation, I own a building, and one of my tenants is a bar, and I also own a portion of that business and unfort the CRA is saying all non-arms length relationships are in-eligible, even though these are seperate business with seperate CRA numbers, they both file annual tax returns, and there is a registered commercial signed lease

      IMO its completly unfair

      My business partners decided, what the heck, they applied anyway, I mean we are talking about a very successful 2 million revenue per annum high profile bar, with revenues reduced to zero since Mar 17, which is only still operating due to financial aid from all 3 levels if Government and a Heritage Canada disbursement, the way they see things, if the CRA downloads the money, the business badly needs it to avoid having to get a higher line of credit or a a bank loan to pay me the rent, if they catch it say a year from now, we see it as a loan that kept us operational, we’ll just pay it back, and in our case we will then appeal it our local LIberal MP and Heritage, (we are politically connected) and meanwhile start communication with the Liberals about changing this rule cos its insane and penalizing small business owners for having bought the building they operate in

      Good luck



      • Avatar Jon on December 2, 2020 at 1:43 PM

        The subsidy is put in place to help the ones that needed the most, clearly if you own the building your better off than the bar/restaurant or whoever is getting hit by COVID the most. If you own both, then your definitely better off to the renters out there. So you might get a piece of taxpayers $$ someday, but probably have to wait awhile.

        Arms length criteria is put in place to avoid close parities scamming the subsidy by shuffling numbers around, similar to income splitting was put to a stop. Which could easily be done in your situation, since in the end $$ going in either the. Holding or the business is entering the same pocket.



    • Avatar Barry Choi on November 25, 2020 at 6:06 AM

      Jim,

      I suspect your wife would not qualify. You’d have to check with the CRA directly.



  20. Avatar Ravi Narula on November 26, 2020 at 8:02 PM

    Any word on the additional $20K CEBA loans? The bank websites don’t have any info yet,



  21. Avatar Luke on December 22, 2020 at 9:50 AM

    We are a non-profit recreational business in a small town in Ontario. Covid has caused a significant reduction in our revenue, and as of late December we will have to close for approximately 1 month. Our main expense is rent. We pay our rent to the town as they own the facility. Is the rent we pay sufficiently “commercial”? Do we qualify for a grant under CERS ?



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