Rents, Loans And A Full Blown Pandemic

Manal S. Khaleedh

Day by day the hysteria that follows COVID19 grows worldwide. Today In Maldives we’re seeing nurse’s being evicted from their rented homes due to the fear of infection. Just last night a couple was spotted on the roadside with all their belongings after their landlord evicted them for failing to pay the rent.

Is it immoral and unethical to evict people from thier homes during a pandemic for failing to pay their rent due to them being unable to work? YES. But that’s not all to this story. The landlord themselves are at the mercy of the big old bankers, they have to pay massive amounts to the big bankers or they’ll be subject to fines themselves in the form of interest on their loans. At this point comes along the moratorium offer by the national bank. Upon closer inspection of the moratorium however, one would see that the amount they have to pay to the bankers are actually more if they take part agree to it. So we can all agree that the current moratorium is of no help to the situation.

So we have a situation where the tenant is unable to earn and is unable to pay rent. Then there is the landlord who is also unable to earn and is subject to a growing interest on their loan. How does one solve this dilemma? Intervention.

At times like this government must intervene on behalf of all citizens to protect their rights and livelihood. At this point we are all well aware that this lockdown could go on for quite some time and with no means to earn, people will starve. And desperate starving citizens are a recipe for disaster. The only solution right now is for the government to intervene by rolling out specials laws that’s to be carried out for the duration of COVID19 and for the recovery period as well.

Temporary halt on loan payments and interests that’s to be incurred on those loans could be enforced to ensure that no landlord would have to kick out the tenants. And a universal food stamp or a food stipend for all citizens and expats living in Maldives could be given to ensure that everyone is well fed even if they run out of their savings. In the United States, the Congresswomen Ilhan Omar proposed a “rent and mortgage suspension” bill which would effectively suspend the payment of rents and mortgages to banks and other lenders during and one month after the state of emergency declared due to COVID19 in the USA. This bill would also ensure that tenants and landlords would not be subject to any penalty or fee or have their credit scores downgraded during and after this period. And violators would have to face a fine of $5,000-$50,000. Repeated violators would have their properties seized by the federal government.

The public needs such an intervention here in Maldives as well. We need a strong leadership who won’t buckle down to the demands of the big businesses, but one who is willing to do what’s right for the people. 

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