Tenants in Kampala are calling upon the government to command landlords to write off the rent dues for the period they have not been working due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The tenants say it is going to be disastrous for them if the lockdown is not lifted soon because they will have to look for money to pay for all the months they have not been working, which according to them, doesn’t balance the equation.
Represented by the Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA), the tenants insist that the only way to save them (traders) is by writing off the collection of rental arrears so that they can begin on a fresh payment schedule. Less than that, they warned that several traders will most likely close shop if the landlords insist on recovering arrears.
“We will continue engaging stakeholders to resolve this challenge because tenants too have loans to clear. When you tell a tenant to pay rental arrears yet these people were actually in lockdown, it means that you are technically kicking them out of business,” Evarist Kayondo, the KACITA Chairperson said.
The landlords, however, dismissed KACITA’s suggestion saying the move is suicidal to the economy.
They declined the requests by tenants to waive off rental fees arising from the COVID-19 lockdown period. Instead, they say they will, in regard to President Myseveni’s directive, allocate the tenants ample time to clear their dues.
The landlords admit that it is fair that way and they can settle for that instead of writing off the dues completely which according to them is suicidal considering they also have loan deadlines to meet.
“I entirely agree with the President on giving the tenants a grace period to clear their outstanding rental dues as long as tenants are aware of their outstanding rental arrears. This lockdown has not only affected tenants but also other people including landlords. Majority of us rely on rental fees to service bank loans which we borrowed to set up arcades.” Drake Lubega a landlord in Kampala said.
Another landlord, Ismail Ssenfuka said he would send letters to all his tenants informing them of the time they would be required to meet their rental arrears once the lockdown is fully lifted.
He said it is a tough time for all sectors and everyone is equally affected by the crisis. Consequently, according to him, waiving off the rental arrears would imply that landlords have been working yet it isn’t the case.
“Any proposal to waiver rental areas will stifle the economy and worsen unemployment. Mr Kayondo’s proposal only favours tenants but not landlords yet all parties have been adversely affected by the crisis.” The Landlords reverted.