indepth

Kind landlords reduce rents to help tenants

PETALING JAYA: What will you do when your tenant requests a rent cut because of financial difficulties due to the impact of the global COVID-19 outbreak?

With no questions asked, landladies Jennifer Wong and Cynthia Lim decided to reduce the rental fees to help their tenants get through this difficult time.

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Lim, a recruitment manager in an information technology (IT) company, is renting out her studio apartment in Cyberjaya, Selangor for RM1,000 a month to a Filipino IT consultant working in the area.

Recently, her tenant had asked for a rental reduction, saying her family in the Philippines has been badly impacted by the government’s “enhanced community quarantine” measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

The strict lockdown requires the entire household to be housebound, resulting in her family being cut off from earning an income. Hence, the tenant had to use her savings to support her family over there.

“We have been landlord-tenant for over two years. She is a nice lady. I believe the rent cut request could alleviate her financial burden, hence I decided to reduce her rental by 10%. This is the least I could do,” Lim told EdgeProp.my during a phone interview.

The 10% rental reduction may not seem like much, but to Lim, it means that she has to dig more into her savings to pay the monthly instalment for the apartment.

“Rent rates of units in the same building have increased to as high as RM1,500, but I didn’t increase her rental as she has been a good paymaster and takes good care of my apartment, ” added Lim.

“I understand her pain for being unable to be with her family. We are facing a similar situation in Malaysia with the COVID-19 so helping each other is the best way to survive this crisis,” she said.

Wong, who also received a request for a rental cut from her tenant recently, concurred that lending a helping hand during tough times is important. She reduced her monthly rental by 15%.

The tenant, a personal care service provider, has been renting the ground floor of Wong’s shop office unit in Aman Suria, Petaling Jaya, Selangor since 2017 for RM4,300 a month.

Being an entrepreneur herself, Wong knows that when business is bad, high overhead costs are a big problem.

“Actually I had the same experience a few years back. I had asked for a reduction on rental due to cashflow problems. The landlord reduced the rental for that month and it helped me get through those tough times. Now, I should help others as well,” the real estate agent told EdgeProp.my.

A little help means a lot

A little goes a long way for tenants who are facing cashflow problems. For a beautician, who only wants to be known as Ann, she is grateful to have received close to 15% cut in rent recently, allowing her to use the savings to pay the salary of her only staff in the shop.

Owning a small beauty salon in Petaling Jaya, Ann’s business mainly relied on residents or office workers in the area. The monthly rental for the 1,650 sq ft retail unit was around RM4,000 a month.

She felt the first hit after Chinese New Year when the number of COVID-19 cases spiked in China and was gradually rising in Malaysia. Things became worse when the situation escalated nationwide and a Movement Control Order (MCO) was enforced on March 18.

“On average, we will have around three to four customers daily. But after Chinese New Year, my regular customers stopped coming and for consecutive days, we would have no customers at all,” Ann shared.

She explained the situation to her landlord and asked for a reduction on the rent. To her surprise, the landlord agreed.

“I was really touched. In times like these, she may also be struggling. The rental discount might not be able to solve all my problems but it helps me get through the month. I hope all these (COVID-19) could be resolved soon,” said the 32-year old. 

The global COVID-19 outbreak which started in January 2020 was declared a global pandemic on March 11, 2020. In Malaysia, confirmed COVID-19 cases have surged to more than 2,000 with at least 23 deaths as at March 26. Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin declared the MCO on March 16.

Stay calm. Stay at home. Keep updated on the latest news at www.EdgeProp.my #stayathome #flattenthecurve

This story first appeared in the EdgeProp.my pullout on March 27, 2020. You can access back issues here.

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