Tenants in capital struggle to pay rent | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 21, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 21, 2020

Tenants in capital struggle to pay rent

Home and shop owners not faring much better

For the last three months, Belal Hossain (30) failed to pay his house or shop rent as the salon owner's livelihood has been seriously hampered since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in the country in March.

The resident of Bauniabadh in the capital is now struggling to make ends meet as his income has dropped to Tk 70-100 a day from Tk 1,000-1,200 per day.

"It's getting very tough to run my six member family... I also have to help my workers as they are without work as well," he said.

"At times, I feel lost as I don't know what to do. I owe over Tk 20,000 to the landlords already," said Bilal. "They are offering me Tk 500 concession each on monthly rents but even with that I am unable to pay them," he added.

Not just Belal, a large number of tenants across the country are facing difficulties in paying their rents due to the ongoing lockdown.

Md Sohel, an employee of a buying house at Madarbari in Uttara, said he could not pay rent for two months.

His problems, however, did not just end there.

"I used to send Tk 5,000 to my parents every month but I could send only Tk 1,000 this month," said Sohel.

He said he got Tk 7,000 in March, Tk 2,000 in April and Tk 1,000 in May from his office, which is closed now. He said he used to earn around Tk 20,000 every month.

The shutdown is not only putting the tenants in a tight spot, many homeowners who run their families with the rent money are also being affected.

Ruhul Amin, a homeowner in Uttara, said this was his only source of income. "I used to get around Tk 70,000 a month from rent. But I'm getting Tk 18,000-19,000 a month due to the crisis. I am struggling to maintain my family as most tenants are not paying rent."

Though there is a clear instruction from the government not to force a tenant to leave in this crisis time, sometimes such incidents are taking place.

In Sylhet, a mother along with her two children was forced to leave from her rented house in Shaplabagh Residential Area on May 13 as she failed to pay Tk 700 rent to the owner.

Desperate, she took shelter on a footpath opposite Sreemangal Police Station that night. The incident became viral on social media.

Police took notice of it and took them to the house around 4 in the morning and asked the landlord not to oust them in this crisis period.

"We also gave food assistance to the family," said Alamgir Hossain, officer-in-charge of Sreemangal Police Station.

Meanwhile, law enforcers are also requesting landlords not to force tenants to leave their home if they are unable to pay rent during this crisis time, said OC Abul Hasan of Shahbagh Police Station in Dhaka.

"If any homeowner does so, we have asked them to complain to the police stations so that we can take necessary actions in this regard," he said.

Contacted, Mohammad Mostofa, joint secretary of Bharatiya Parishad, said there are many people in the country who are out of work and have no income now. "They are struggling to put food on the table, let alone paying rent," he said.

"When we hear that a family has been ousted by a landlord, we go there and try to take them back to their house," he added.

"We are demanding that the tenants are exempted from paying rent for three months. The government can help the owners in this regard so that they are also not in serious crisis," he said.

Golam Rahman, president of Consumer Association of Bangladesh, said homeowners, who have the ability, should be patient and more considerate.

Contacted, LGRD Minister Tajul Islam said they have received a request letter from the BGMEA to provide support to their workers.

"Based on the request letter from the BGMEA president, we have issued such letters to all city corporations, municipalities and union parishads to take necessary steps and reduce 50 percent house rent of RMG workers," he said.

The minister said the authorities concerned will sit with owners and tenants in this regard as they cannot impose it directly on owners.

Asked, Dhaka North City Corporation Mayor Atiqul Islam said it is indeed a dilemma and they have to sit with both the parties (landlords and tenants) to come up with a solution.

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