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Landlords, tenants call for rates freeze as covid-19 pandemic relief

Landlords and tenants in Bulawayo have called on the government of Zimbabwe to institute a national rate freeze on utilities and rentals as a relief strategy for citizens whose income has been affected by the covid-19 pandemic lockdown.

These sentiments were raised following the recent promulgation of Statutory Instrument 96 of 2020. On the 29th of April 2020, the President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa promulgated Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) (Deferral of Rent and Mortgage Payments During National Lockdown) Regulations Statutory Instrument 96 of 2020 which deferred payment of rentals in respect of residential premises and all mortgage repayments.

A home owner from Lobhengula suburb, Bekezela Nyathi said the lockdown has negatively affected her relationship with her tenants citing that the only remedy to her financial stress would be a total freeze on payment of electricity and water.

“It is really difficult for me not to increase rentals because as it is, prices of basic commodities are spiraling while City Council water rates were increased from $30 ZWL to $300 ZWL. During the lockdown, if my tenants do not pay their rentals, after three months charges on rates would have tripled and how will I manage?

I cannot pay rates and not expect payment from tenants, so this is a difficult situation. What would favour both of us is for government to stop billing of all rates during the lockdown,” said Nyathi.

 

Mosupatsila Nare, who is a Legal Officer at the Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD) reiterated Nyathi’s sentiments anchoring that government should freeze payments of rates during the lockdown.

“This law on deferment of rentals is appropriate especially for tenants who are not making any income as they are on forced leave. However, this is a disadvantage to landlords who are still expected to pay their rates. Therefore, to ease the pressure on both landlords and tenants, government should instruct a freeze on payment of all utilities and rates such as electricity and water,” said Nare.

Sharing her views on Skyz Metro FM this afternoon, a tenant from Lobhengula suburb Nokwethemba Sikhosana said as a self-employed woman.

“Life has become difficult because while on lockdown, I am not making any income as a cross border trader. I am grounded. Customers are also grounded and cannot purchase my wares. This means I have no income and cannot afford to pay my rent,” she said.

Sikhosana said this has resulted in insurmountable conflict between landlords and tenants as landlords are expected to pay their rates on a monthly basis despite the Presidential Regulation Statutory Instrument 96 of 2020 which stipulates that tenants can defer their rental payments.

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