Covid: City landlords give rent waiver to tenants

Tuesday July 7 2020

 Shops remained closed on Namire

Shops remained closed on Namirembe Road in Kampala in March. Some landlords in Kampala City are waiving rent for tenants. PHOTO BY ABUBAKER LUBOWA 

By TONY ABET

Landlords in Kampala are waiving rent for tenants, with some giving up to three rent-free months to new tenants.
The traders last week petitioned Parliament, asking for a stimulus package and government safeguard to be able to operate because they have been out of business for about four months since the Covid-19 lockdown was announced in March.

The traders say they have no money to pay rent as business is still low and buyers are few despite the partial reopening of the lockdown last month.

A number of landlords attached to Mukwano Group, Aponye Ltd and Freedom City, have given rent waivers to traders in their premises, according to information from Kampala City Traders Association (Kacita).

Mr Haruna Sentongo, one of the city landlords, told Daily Monitor yesterday that he pardoned his tenants of Segawa Market in Mengo-Kisenyi for the past three months.

Mr Sentongo, who has around 500 tenants, said he is giving traders who are coming in as new tenants three more months to stabilise in business before starting to pay rent.

“Because of the effects of Covid-19, I am giving out three free months to all new tenants at Segawa Market so that start-up business can get a strong beginning,” he told Daily Monitor.

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A number of traders are struggling to pay rent as volume of sales and income has dwindled due to the effects of the Covid-19 lockdown.

“In my opinion, both sides need each other to work. We need the tenants and they have been understanding during these hard times most especially now that we are all facing economic crisis,” he said.

Mr Issa Sekitto, the Kacita public relations officer, said more landlords are responding to the cry of the tenants. He said pressuring tenants to pay rent at the moment looks very unfair and unsustainable.

He said many traders have small businesses that cannot raise Shs3m that most landlords demand as rent fees.
Mr Issa Sekitto said they have also asked Uganda Revenue Authority to give traders some tax waivers. “Covid-19 didn’t come for tenants alone,” he said.

Kacita management said they had called for a meeting to meet landlords and relevant government agencies but it was blocked by police.

“We had written to the police asking them to allow us to have a scientific meeting at Bishop Ddungu memorial gardens in Nsambya, Kampala, but the police refused. We are still engaging relevant authority so that we can exchange views on how this can be tackled,” he said.

Mr Drake Lubega, another city landlord, however, said he will simply abide by what the President says on rent.
“You can waive rent but how do we compensate? If the Head of State [president Museveni] tells us what to do, we shall follow,” he said.

Caution
In April, President Museveni, warned landlords against evicting tenants who failed to pay their monthly dues.

tabet@ug.nationmedia.com

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