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More Malaysians are close to becoming homeless because they can’t afford their rent.

We cannot wait any longer, PN must set up a rental relief fund before more Malaysians are evicted from their homes.

Set-up a Rental Relief Fund to address office, residential and restaurant evictions.

The stories I have heard from my constituents over the last few weeks are the same. 

Many families are unable to make rent due to loss of income and retrenchment during the lockdown and post-lockdown period.

A family of four that usually spends RM700 on their rent was forced to sleep inside their car as they were evicted.

A single mother who worked in catering services was also made homeless with her two children, because she couldn’t pay her monthly rental of RM550.

It didn’t matter to her landlord that she received zero income during the lockdown.

These cases, I believe, are just the tip of the iceberg. 

Yes, the government did intervene but much more needs to be done. 

For example, while the government waived off rent for six months, this only applied to tenants in PPR flats and Public Housing (PA) projects under the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (KPKT) and the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).

The tenants who rented at private premises did not receive such assistance.

So, the government has to look at alternative solutions. The New Zealand government imposed a freeze to residential rent increases and greater protections for tenants against having their tenancies terminated.

In Virginia, a south-eastern U.S state, the government launched the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program (RMRP), which will provide $50 million in federal CARES Act funding for households in the form of rent and mortgage payments.

I’m not just hearing stories of evictions from people but SMEs as well. And this is a big concern as it could render workers jobless, making it impossible for them to pay their rent. 

So, the government needs to do more to help the Small to Medium Enterprises by easing their financial burden through subsidising their rent.

The SMEs incurred an estimated RM14.31 billion losses in operating costs during the six weeks of the Movement Control Order (MCO). 

According to the special report released by Retails Group Malaysia, on behalf of the Malaysia Retailers Association (MRA), this includes rental of premises, head office expenses, insurance, advertising and promotional expenses and repair and maintenance.

The report cited cashflow challenges with the payment of salaries and premise rentals as the two highest costs.

With tight cash flow and dwindling profit margins, SMEs were either forced to shut down or retrench their workers. SME Association of Malaysia reports that about 30% of SMEs are going to close down their businesses in the next one year.

This would, again, feed into the narrative of people not being able to fork out their rent money. 

While the government did provide rent exemptions and tax deductions, SMEs that rented at private premises did not receive such benefits.

In Japan, the government shoulders two-thirds of rent for up to six months if small businesses, irrespective of sector, experiences revenue drops.

Also, our neighbour Singapore has offered rental relief programme involving 2-month waiver of rentals for all SMEs and NPOs, including another 2 months on appeal.

I propose a rental relief measure premised on the notions of fair sharing of economic hardship and for the common good of society and economic sustainability. In this way, we provide a life-line for businesses and keeping employment intact, thus preventing a crisis.

Therefore, I suggest Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin’s government, include a Rental Relief Fund in Covid-19 Bill 2020 which already been tabled.

The Rental Relief Fund should include the following measures:

  1. Suspension of evictions: No family or business should be forced out of their premises, even if they miss a payment, until 31 March 2021. Landlords should try to reach an agreement with their tenants and if necessary, issue a 90-day-notice before any eviction.
  2. Rent freeze: Ban on residential and commercial rent increase up to March 2021.
  3. Extension of the moratorium: Landlords who are willing to waive off the rent are eligible to apply an extension of the moratorium on house loans up to March 2021. First homeowner could also apply for an extension of moratorium until March 2021 if they can prove they suffered from income loss or were laid-off.
  4. Waive off the rents for the poor: Government should waive off the leases for the poor (household income less than PLI of RM2,208) by compensating the landlord until March 2021.
  5. Special grants: Government should provide special grants for SMEs that experienced a 30% revenue drop, year-on-year, by subsidising 70% of their rental fees and capped at RM8,500 (using the average rental rate for a 1,000 sq ft well-located Grade A office in KL; RM8.5 per sq ft per month) until March 2021.

Charles Santiago,

MP Klang

One comment on “More Malaysians are close to becoming homeless because they can’t afford their rent.

  1. Malaysians had to deny any electoral support for this PN, UmnoPas gomen indefinitely…
    When overseas, our children are ashamed to be Malaysian becos of the shameful act of Najib and lopsided judiciary system of the PN gomen….

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