Rent payments loom large over the people of Karachi as most landlords refuse to provide concessions for tenants during the ongoing lockdown.
Mukhtar Ahmed, who runs a canteen at a private hospital, has said that his business has been shut for the past two weeks and he has no money to pay his rent with.
“I used to purchase items from the bakery and sell them in the canteen but I can’t do that anymore due to the lockdown so I have no form of income,” Mukhtar, who lives in a rented house in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, said. “I have to pay my house’s rent since my landlord refuses to give me any concession but I have no idea how I’ll be able to do that.”
The distribution of ration by philanthropists and charities means his family is able to eat for now but the prospect of rent still weighs heavy on his shoulders.
A widow, who wished to remain anonymous, said she puts food on the table for herself and her two daughters by providing tuitions to kids but says that parents don’t want to pay for April.
“I was paid my my students’ parentsin March but they won’t pay this month since schools are now closed,” she said. “Previously, the children would come even during summer vacations but that is not the case at the moment as people stay at home. I don’t have any money to pay this month’s rent.”
Landlords say their hands are tied
The landlords argue that they count on the rent to make ends meet.
“I am not in a position to give any kind of concession in the monthly rent of my house,” Muhammad Imran explained to Muhammad Mural Ali, his tenant for the last eight years. “I need the full amount to pay my children’s school fees.”
Others, such as retired bank officer Shamsuddin Shaikh, have rent as their only source of income.
“I can’t afford to hand out concessions on my rent since I won’t be able to meet my own expenses if I do so,” he explained.
Looking out for each other
Real estate agents, however, reveal that some landlords do seem to be giving their tenants some leeway.
“I collect rents of around 20-25 houses in a month and deposit the money into the landlords’ bank accounts but so far neither the landlords or the tenants have contacted us about it despite us being a week into April now,” said Arshad Sikandar, who owns a real estate agency. “People are willing to compromise considering what we are facing these days.”