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General News · 18th April 2020
Graham Blake
Echoing some of Shirley's concerns...

Noba seems to be implying that it's straightforward that fixed-term rentals will automagically convert to month-to-month agreement where a whole new rental agreement regime with additional protections and implications kicks in. This seems to be extremely questionable legal advice.

There are certainly other interpretations of the current situation with fixed-term rentals during the COVID state of emergency. Some people believe that fixed-term agreements remain in full-force and tenants are still expected to vacate at the end of their term, however the landlord has no ability to enforce that tenants do in fact vacate. They can not get an order of possession during the state of emergency - however, it's believed (by some at least) that as soon as the state of emergency is lifted, landlords will be able to apply for an order of possession to enforce the end of a fixed-term rental when a tenant has refused to vacate.

In short, people can legally refuse to vacate a fixed term rental right now, and there's nothing a landlord can do about it, but this doesn't necessarily mean the legal protections of a month-to-month rental agreement will automatically apply going forward.

I would recommend people who are facing the end of a fixed-term rental get on more solid footing with their landlord and not simply rely on the assumption that the protections Noba describes will automatically apply when the state of emergency is lifted. Make sure to arrive at a valid month-t0-month tenancy agreement, or some other longer term arrangement. Otherwise some people may find themselves subject to legally enforceable possession orders they were not expecting.

See the following link where some property management folk are discussing this very issue (question 2) and how to ensure a fixed-term tenancy does not automatically convert to a month-to-month tenancy during the state of emergency. I can't vouch that their interpretation is legally correct, but it definitely shows that there's debate about how this issue is being interpreted, and people should be careful.

https://www.castanet.net/edition/news-story-297461-1-.htm