Must I pay my rent during lockdown?
The simple answer is yes. You must pay your rent during lockdown.
Contrary to fake documents going around on Facebook and WhatsApp, the government has not passed any laws which make it possible for tenants to skip their monthly rent. They also haven’t prohibited landlords and rental agents from collecting on payments.
Unfortunately, this really is just wishful thinking right now.
Times are tough for renters
In April 2020, consumer credit reporting agency, Transunion, conducted a survey on adults in SA and abroad called the Consumer Financial Hardship Study: The impact due to COVID-19 in South Africa. They found that:
- 8 in 10 South Africans say their household income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19.
- 92% of millennials (those born in 1980–1994) and 95% of Gen X (those born in 1965–1979) have been particularly hard hit, and were concerned about their ability to pay their bills.
When looking at consumers who are concerned about paying their bills:
- 46% report that they will not be able to pay their utilities, such as electricity, water, etc.
- 42% will not be able to make their rent repayment.
- 39% report that they will not be able to pay their cell phone bill.
This survey reinforces what we already know: people are struggling and many are simply overwhelmed by their financial situation right now. Therefore, it is no surprise that residential rental agreements are a topic that is coming up more and more often.
What if I can’t pay my rent during lockdown?
If your income has been affected and you are unable to pay your rent during the lockdown — or you will only be able to make a part-payment — then we recommend that you contact your landlord or rental agent before your next payment is due.
Go to them with proof that your circumstances have changed and that your income has been affected. You can, for example, show them your latest payslip, bank statement, TERS or UIF application, etc.
Openly discuss different payment arrangements, and see if you can come to an agreement on how to best get through the next few months. Remember that your rent may be their main source of income. You both need each other.
You cannot be evicted during lockdown
It is important to note that in late March 2020, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola declared evictions illegal during the lockdown.
“All evictions and executions of attachment orders, both movable and immovable, including the removal of movable assets in executions, are suspended with immediate effect for the duration of the lockdown.”
Communication is key
Communication is key during the COVID-19 lockdown. If, like millions of others, your financial situation is negatively affected right now — find a way to communicate with your creditors and/or others that you need to pay. Don’t just leave things in the air. They could have serious consequences for your family after the lockdown ends.
Rather make arrangements on your own — or get a debt counsellor to make arrangements on your behalf. With dozens of registered debt counsellors ready to assist you, National Debt Advisors is always here to assist you in any way we can. Simply fill in the contact form and one of our consultants will call you back FREE.