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Rent payment in coronavirus era

RENT FILE PHOTO An apartment for rent being displayed

Thu, 11 Jun 2020 Source: Prosper Yeaka

The virus has caused a lot of losses and many measures have been put in place to solve some of these problems, but one other problem that has to be looked at is Tenant and rent. Most Ghanaian workers are traders and their source of income is from what they trade on, unfortunately, this COVID-19 pandemic period, most traders are unable to make significant sales making their income stream very low/poor. However, most of these traders are on rented houses which have to be renewed this year.

The question is how are these traders going to pay rent? What would be the reaction(s) of Landlords towards tenants who are unable to pay rent?

It is a fact that the government can't absorb the cost of rent, however, the government can put policies/measures down that can regulate/control the payment of rent?

Government is however constrained in putting up some of these policies and measures, the reason being that most rental properties in the country (Ghana) are not listed and are not on the space market, hence rent paid by most tenants is determined by the Landlord and not the government controls rent.

Rent is supposed to be determined by the Rent control department of the state, but in all the government can still help control rent and tenant rights in this period.

How can the government control tenants and landlords during this period? The law allows three months’ vacation of a property when tenant rent expires, but this law is overlooked, this law has to be enforced to help release tenants from the frustration they go through during this pandemic period when their rent expires. We recall recent times in Accra when tenants were forced by Landlord to vacate their house immediately when their rent expired.

Unfortunately, this tenant was shot dead due to a delay in the payment of rent.

Enforcing this law especially within this pandemic period will serve the people of Ghana good. The government may also pass an Act would seek to bring a reduction in rent payment during the pandemic period, the minimum wage in Ghana now stands at GH?11.82 meaning in a month the average working Ghanaian earns GH?236.40 in 20 working days, the average Ghanaian pays rent of GH?200.00 which is quite expensive to most small scale traders in the country, thus, how will they be able to pay their rent? Notwithstanding if the government is able to control rent by enacting an ACT which will bring a reduction in rent to help tenants whose rent is due within this pandemic period, it will bring a sigh of relief to tenants. In a nutshell, the government has to rise and take action with regard to housing, Landlord-Tenant relationships in this period in order to avoid conflicts between landlords and Tenants during crisis periods.

Columnist: Prosper Yeaka