Nepal | July 05, 2020

Direction for rent waiver falls on deaf ears

Himalayan News Service
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Kathmandu, May 5

In a bid to support tenants facing cash shortage during the lockdown, the government towards the end of March had directed landlords not to take one month’s rent, especially of Chaitra, from tenants.

It had also said last week that implementation of this decision would be monitored through the local level governments.

However, landlords largely ignored the government’s decision on one-month rent waiver for tenants while the government too has failed to implement its decision.

As a result, tenants have been left suffering during the crisis.

Landlords have been refusing to provide a waiver on house rents to tenants citing their own financial liabilities. “It’s not like money grows on trees for landlords, who also have their own financial obligations. Though providing a discount on the rent is not logical, landlords should not pressurise tenants to pay their rents immediately,” said Prakash Adhikari, a landlord in Jorpati.

Similarly, Niyesh Badal, a landlord based in Kapan, said that the government should not enforce its decision to provide waiver to tenants. “It should be voluntary. Those landlords who want to provide the waiver can do so while those not in a position to do so should not be compelled,” said Badal.

Local governments, which have been asked by the federal government to monitor the implementation of the government’s decision, say that they are not in a position to force landlords to provide waiver on rents as it was basically just an appeal to the landlords.

“Based on the government’s decision, we have repeatedly asked landlords to provide a one-month waiver on rent for tenants or at least give them some discount during the crisis,” said Uddhav Prasad Kharel, mayor of Budhanilkantha Municipality, Kathmandu.

“We have found that up to 25 per cent of landlords have been supporting tenants by either not taking one month’s rent or giving certain per cent waiver or deferring the rent payment period,” he added.

Kharel said that they could only request landlords not to pressurise tenants for rent during the crisis.

Even officials at the Ministry of Finance (MoF) believe that the government is not in a position to compel landlords to provide waiver on rent.

“The case is more related to ethics and humanity. Amid such crisis, everyone should support each other and one of those means is landlords being flexible on rents. The government’s decision primarily intended to appeal to landlords for this,” said Uttar Kumar Khatri, spokesperson for MoF.

Khatri said that the Finance Ministry through the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration has already requested landlords to give a one-month waiver on rents for tenants.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on May 6, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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