With the lockdown extended till May 3, many people are struggling to pay their monthly rent. It is not just families living in residential properties that have been affected; students and people living in paying guest accommodations and small business owners who rent commercial space too have taken a hit.
In these times of uncertainty, many tenants and landlords have begun negotiating the rentals for April. Shashikanth R., a factory worker from Rajajinagar, said he paid the rent for March but also indicated to his landlord that meeting April’s rent might be tough as he was not sure if he would get his salary. “The landlord accepted my request and asked me to pay whatever I could afford in May and the remaining amount in instalments once the lockdown is lifted and I begin work again,” he said.
In fact, landlords of most labour camps on the city’s outskirts have announced a waiver of sorts. “Our landlord has said we need not pay rent for two months for now,” said Yellamma, a resident of a labour camp in Kundalahalli.
However, not all landlords can afford to be this accommodating, as the rent they receive is their only source of income. “My landlord recently told us that he would need us to pay the rent for April and that he couldn’t make any concessions. We told him that we would vacate the house when he returned the advance we paid. He has now agreed to deduct the rent from the advance,” said Krishna Kumar, a resident of Hulimavu.
Renegotiations over the rent for April have begun in middle-class residential localities as well. “We have invested our life’s savings on the property and are dependent on the rent we receive. Likewise, the tenants are also under stress. This is a time we need to renegotiate with empathy,” said Narasimhappa, a landlord in Vidyaranyapura.
N.S. Mukunda, founder-president of Citizen’s Action Forum, said they have decided to send a circular to all the over 110 residents’ welfare associations under their umbrella, appealing that they renegotiate on humanitarian grounds. “But the fear is this crisis may stretch beyond April. These ad hoc arrangements to defer payments will work for a month or two, not beyond,” he said.
Meanwhile, discontent is brewing among traders and businessmen. “Traders need to pay their staff salaries as well. The three-month moratorium on EMIs is a sham as not paying EMI will cost us dearly in the long run. Most traders are in a tough spot and will be unable to pay rent for April,” said T.A. Saravana, chairman of Basavanagudi Merchants’ Association.
Sajjan Raj Mehta, a leading merchant from Chickpet, the wholesale market hub of the city has a similar view. “Neither the landlord nor the tenant is at fault. The burden needs to be borne by both. The government needs to help traders with some sops to help us tide over the crisis,” he said. However, multiple traders’ associations said they have now begun deliberations on the April rent and would try to arrive at some formula by the end of the month.