For millions of people around the world the coronavirus pandemic has been first experienced as a financial crisis, destroying their jobs and income.
Many governments have set up schemes to try to help people navigate the crisis, but individuals have also played a part. One such person is Michael Munene, a landlord in Kenya, who’s decided to forfeit the rent owed to him by his 15 tenants for four months. He’s also given them food parcels. He says he’s doing it because he himself used to struggle to pay the rent – and was sometimes locked in his building for being unable to pay.
“I told them from henceforth I want you to concentrate on getting food for you and your family… the money you’re supposed to pay for the rent, use it for your basic needs.”
Michael Munene said that he understands the economic situation since the pandemic hit the country; that’s why he decided that his tenants won’t pay rent for two months, March and April.
Mr Munene has 28 residential houses that he charges Sh3,000 each and six commercial units that he rents out for Sh5,000 a month.
“When Coronavirus came to Kenya, life became unbearable, and some of them could not afford to raise the rent early enough resorting to borrowing, that’s why I have decided not to charge them for the next two months,” said Munene.
The landlord added that he agreed with those who could pay the rent to do so by the 10th of the month instead of 7th.
“My tenants are usually very loyal, and most of them settle their rent on time. I reflected on the current situation, and told myself: ‘Even if none [of my tenants] has ever absconded paying house rent, I understand that the coronavirus outbreak could make it difficult for some to raise the rent on time’. I wouldn’t want a situation where any of my tenants takes a loan to settle house rent,” he added.
Munene’s decision comes days after the government asked businesses and companies to allow their employees to work from home or other go on unpaid leave over the pandemic.
His kind gestures attracted a lot of attention from the online fraternity, with most Kenyans congratulating his while come asked for other landlords to do the same.
Samba Paul says, “Michael Munene the Landlord from Nyandarua God bless you abundantly for the good gesture. Nairobi landlords should follow suit..”
His sentiments were echoed by Mickreen Adhiambo, who says, “The best definition of humanity is in that landlord from Nyandarua Michael Munene. Waiving his tenants’ four months’ rent, understanding the economic challenges coming with #coronavirusinKenya may he be immensely blessed.”