The appeal by the government asking landlords to postpone rent collection by a month may bring some relief to tenants amid the coronavirus outbreak but a section of citizens has been left worried. The central government's recent order, issued under the Disaster Management Act, stops landlords from demanding rent from poor workers and migrant labourers for one month. It also provides for strict action against the landlords who force evict their tenants. "Wherever the workers, including the migrants, are living in rented accommodation, the landlords of those properties shall not demand payment of rent for the period of one month" said the Home Ministry order.
The order may impact monthly earnings of people who are largely dependent on rent, especially senior citizens. "Giving up on rent could have a big negative impact on our earnings as rent only supplements the income of the senior citizens," 65-year-old Ghaziabad-based landlady Prabha Shukla told Business Today.In. The onus to testify if the tenant is a worker employed in a factory according to the UP government's latest order further adds to the worries, she added.
The Uttar Pradesh government also issued a magisterial order in the Noida region asking landlords to postpone rent collection by a month. It also contains a punishment clause under which landlords found violating the order could be sentenced up to one year in prison or imposed with a penalty, or both. The Delhi government has already issued a similar appeal in this regard.
"It's a welcome decision and many landlords especially in the Noida region could already be seen announcing on social media about not demanding rent from migrant labourers for one month. However, expecting the same from the people who are totally dependent on rent income would be too demanding," Shweta Bharti, General Secretary, Noida Extension Flat Owners Welfare Association (NEFOWA), told Business Today.In.
UP government's order comes days after the government provided for fiscal stimulus. Also, the RBI deferred the EMI payment on loans to provide relief amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Even as the public sector banks can wait to get additional interest from the borrowers after the three-month moratorium is over, landlords with only rent as a major source of income may not have room to do such, a Mumbai-based investment advisor said on the condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, India is currently under a 21-day lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The lockdown has also triggered a huge exodus of migrant labourers and wage workers.