The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Samuel Atta Akyea, says the government is ready to consider bailout for people who are threatened with eviction from their homes over their inability to honour their rent obligations due to the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19). He said his office would interrogate any report it received for such request and investigate to determine the level of support that could be offered. “If someone should push that people who have no place to live as a direct result of the COVID-19 challenges should have their rent paid, we should be able to absorb it. We have the financial space,” Mr Atta Akyea indicated when he took his turn at the regular minister’s media briefing on Ghana’s COVID-19 management.
Should the payment of rent become a reality, it will be the third social intervention from government to alleviate the situation of Ghanaians feeling the impact of the pandemic. Already, government has absorbed the bill for water consumption for the months of April, May and June for all Ghanaians, also, low consumers have had their electricity bills taken up while 50 per cent of the bills for businesses and other consumers will be borne for three months, starting from April to June.
Mr Atta Akyea, however, said his office was yet “to hear of the wholesale eviction of tenants,” but gave an assurance that if any report came to his attention, “we will get the feedback and handle it”. “Let’s see if there are numbers. We shouldn’t just wave our hands and say we should pay the rent of people who are suffering as a result of the COVID-19 numbers, but if we see the numbers, we will see what we can do,” he added.
Mr Atta Akyea appealed to landlords and landladies to show empathy towards their tenants to mitigate the impact of the situation on those who had been hard hit by economic challenges due to the pandemic. He said though they might be on the side of the law on rent, landlords should be sympathetic to the plight of their tenants, just as government had shown concern and provided some reliefs which were being enjoyed by all. The law, for example, allows for tenants to be evicted for not paying rent within one month after the rent is due. However, the minister said strictly applying the law in these times would be “unGhanaian”. “How is it going to work in this COVID-19 environment, if landlords with commercial appetites start evicting tenants from their premises? That would be very unGhanaian,” Mr Atta Akyea said.