Tenants who are not paying their rent because of the COVID-19 pandemic are causing severe financial problems for property owners.
Several landlords told Barbados TODAY that since the national shutdown started in March they have been finding it difficult to get their rent from tenants who are using Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley’s appeal for landlords to be lenient as an excuse not to pay up.
The landlords argued that while the tenants are not keeping up their end of the contract, as property owners, their personal financial commitments, including mortgage payments and utility bills for the rental properties, are piling up.
Dwayne Johnson said he was frustrated dealing with the issue to the point that he was forced to make the decision on Monday to have the electricity turned off at one of his all-inclusive rental studio apartments.
He explained that the light bill at that location had reached over $900 and also noted that even before the pandemic started the tenant had owed him hundreds in rent.
“Tenants are telling me that Mia Mottley said that basically tenants cannot be evicted and that tenants should not be paying rent, light, water or WIFI because it is free until COVID-19 is over. That is what a few of my tenants have told me and some of them are working.
“This is extremely frustrating because at the same time, the bank is expecting me to pay my mortgage and the Barbados Light & Power is expecting me to pay them. I have to pay the water bill. I am not going to turn off the water because that is a basic necessity. My packages include utilities and WIFI, so if you do not pay the rent I cannot pay the bills. You are putting me in a situation where I am going to be bankrupt and out of business and I am not going to be able to feed my kids,” he said.
Johnson who said he has had to employ the services of his lawyer to deal with the matter, said he understands that the pandemic has made it difficult for some persons to meet their financial obligations.
He said this is why since March he offered his tenants the opportunity to negotiate to pay some of the rent so he could at least pay the bills to keep them on.
However, Johnson noted that some tenants were not even willing to negotiate.
“Tenants owe, tenants left, tenants don’t pay me because they are using COVID-19 as an excuse. I am like guys, you still have to pay the light but they are like no we ain’t paying. We are going to live and you can’t do anything about it.
“I am not getting into any physical confrontation with anybody. I am going to use the law. I am going to go through my lawyer to deal with that. And then when people owe you money, sometimes it is difficult for you to get this money because the court process really takes time and you still have to pay the lawyer,” he said.
Another landlord who asked for her name not to be used related to Barbados TODAY that she has been experiencing the same issue her tenants.
The elderly lady said from speaking to other landlords she believed tenants had taken the Prime Minister’s appeal out of context.
She said a husband and wife who she believes are still working have not paid rent for the past four months.
“Prime Minister Mottley asked landlords to be lenient on tenants. But when you got a tenant that owes you before this thing happen what do you do? But yet the water people telling you where to pay the water bill. I could understand when somebody genuinely doesn’t have, but not that you owe me before and then you telling me nonsense.
“If somebody usually pay you good then you could be lenient on them because you know when they start back to work they will start paying you. I even hired a bailiff for that husband and wife and them tell me they are not frightened for no bailiff and leaving every morning. And I can tell you a lot of landlords having this problem,” the landlord said.
When contacted, another landlord said she has two apartments, each occupied by a couple.
She said while one couple negotiated to pay half of the rent until their financial situation returned to where it should be the occupants of the other apartment informed her that they will resume paying rent after the pandemic has passed.
“What got me vex is that the boyfriend not working but the girlfriend is an essential worker. They don’t have any children, so why can’t they even negotiate like the other two that they will pay half the rent?
“People see landlords as unfair. But people need to understand that landlords have bills, mortgages to deal with and families to support too. And landlords dealing with the corona virus like everybody else,” the aggrieved landlord lamented.