Govt stops home evictions over unpaid rentals during lockdown month

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By Mary Taruvinga

CABINET has resolved to stop any pending evictions on tenants in both residential and commercial lodgings over unpaid rentals during the month-long Covid-19 induced lockdown period.

Speaking at a post-cabinet media briefing Tuesday, Information minister, Monica Mutsvangwa said there was need for parties to understand the dire situation brought by the world pandemic.

Tenants who are currently struggling to pay will however have to meet their rentals arrears in instalments post covid-19 lockdown.

“In view of the foregoing, cabinet resolved that His Excellency, the President will consider the promulgation of presidential regulations to give relief to both tenants and landlords during the lockdown period.

“The cabinet resolved that the residential and commercial properties be accorded a moratorium on evictions in respect of applicable lease obligations due for the period from April to the end of the lockdown including payment of rentals due for those months,” Mutsvangwa said.

She also said “any unpaid rentals due for the period from April up to the end of the lockdown be paid in equal instalments after the declaration of the end of the lock down period together with the rentals due to those months”.

“All rent deferrals shall be free of interest charges or penalties of whatever nature,” she said.

Speaking at the same briefing, Industry and Commerce minister, Sekai Nzenza said parties should find each other.

She acknowledged this could create chaos and result in piling of court cases, hence the need for dialogue between landlords and tenants.

“We are living in very unusual situations. People are not able to pay rent. So, to address the problems, we can’t say we have the answer right there, but I would say we should come to a table and have a dialogue that is done in good faith,” she said.

However, Mutsvangwa said those who defy the directive could find themselves in trouble with the law.

“…If somebody doesn’t follow on what the government is doing in trying to help in terms of bringing in a moratorium on both tenants and landlords…the courts will certainly deal with them,” said Mutsvangwa.

The move by government comes at a time most Zimbabweans are struggling to put food on the table due to the prolonged job stayaway.

Payment of rentals has been a nightmare for many who survive on informal deals and have not generated a single penny since the introduction of the lockdown.