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COVID-19: Freeze rents, ban ejection of tenants – Mahama to government

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Former president and flagbearer of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Mahama is calling on the Akufo-Addo government to place a moratorium on the ejection of tenants who are unable to pay their rents due to challenges caused by the outbreak of COVID-19 in Ghana.

John Mahama said the government can also consider a scheme that will support tenants struggling to pay their rents.

In a Facebook post on Friday, he said rent is one of the areas that require that government urgently intervenes to cushion citizens from the effects of COVID-19.

“Government and property owners would have to devise a scheme to come to the aid of tenants who are unable to pay their rents. A moratorium on ejections as a first step will be helpful to many who have lost their daily income as a result of the lockdown. In return, I believe Government can compensate landlords and landladies for any income lost through tax reliefs, exemptions among others,” John Mahama said.

The government’s fight against COVID-19 in Ghana has among other things a social aspect that has since rolled out a number of interventions to ease the financial burden on Ghanaians as a result of the pandemic.

Some of the interventions include the free supply of water for all Ghanaians, free electricity to the poorest of the poor and 50 per cent discount on electricity tariff for other Ghanaians as well as the twice-daily distribution of hot meals to residents in some deprived communities.

Although the rollout of some of the interventions has been fraught with many challenges, some people are benefiting from them.

Some countries such as Guinea has already announced a rent break in addition to free water and electricity.

Read his statement below:

On Thursday I spent the afternoon visiting one of the communities on the outskirts of Accra to present food items to some households. From my interactions with the people, one that struck me most was the concern of a young woman that her landlord is demanding the rent for February and March or she faces ejection. She’s been home for a while due to the lockdown and cannot raise the funds to pay. Rent, as we have learnt from other countries is one of the key areas government intervention is required in mitigating the impact of COVID-19.

In Ghana, properties are privately owned and rents are paid for several years in advance. Government and property owners would have to devise a scheme to come to the aid of tenants who are unable to pay their rents. A moratorium on ejections as a first step will be helpful to many who have lost their daily income as a result of the lockdown. In return, I believe Government can compensate landlords and landladies for any income lost through tax reliefs, exemptions among others.

Cost of interventions

All of the government’s interventions are to last for a period of three months. According to the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO), it costs the state GHC 2 million a day to food the beneficiary communities.

The Energy Ministry has also said the electricity intervention will cost US$181 million; about GHS 1 billion for three-month period.

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