Jamaica: Landlords urged to work with tenants facing tough times

Jamaica: Landlords urged to work with tenants facing tough times
The COVID-19 crisis has created a great deal of uncertainty in the real estate market. Some persons fear that tenants who have lost their jobs and are now unable to pay rent, could end up with nowhere to live.

(JAMAICA STAR) – Local realtor Kaili McDonnough Scott, who works for Coldwell Banker Jamaica Reality, said she is hoping that tenants and landlords can find some common ground where payments are concerned as a result of the unforeseen crisis brought on by the COVID pandemic.

McDonnough Scott told THE STAR that she understands that this may be a rather tough time for both parties.

“I know that some people were laid off and some people just have their own businesses which they haven’t been operating all month, so some tenants might find it hard to pay rent,” she said. “But tenants also have to keep in mind that the landlord may be using that money to educate their children or live off of, so you can’t just assume that the landlord can absorb the cost,” she said.

She believes that the best possible approach is for tenants to work towards a real estate plan with their landlords.

“We don’t know how long this virus will be here for, so as a tenant, I would suggest that you ask for a reprieve or ask for a percentage off until things are back to normal,” she said. “And as for landlords, whatever they negotiate during this time, they should get it in writing,” she said.

“Both landlords and tenants have to think about what each other are going through at this time,” McDonnough Scott told THE STAR.

She said it was difficult to find renters during this pandemic, so she is recommending a partnership between property owners and tenants.

“If the landlord decides not to work with the tenant and the tenant decides to leave the property, the landlord would be left without and it may take a while to get the property rented with the constraints we are dealing with,” she said.

During a recent press conference, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the Government is unable to intervene in a situation where tenants are unable to pay their rent during the COVID-19 financial fallout, because the issue is a legal one.

He urged persons to therefore negotiate with their landlords for time to pay as all await the containment of COVID-19.

McDonnough Scott, who has been a realtor for eight years, said the best way to keep a rented property afloat is by creating trustworthy relationships.

“A landlord should always try to build a relationship with your client, so when they are putting someone in their property, it is important that they at least try to vet them,” she said

From creating relationships, more transparent communication would be facilitated even more so now when it is needed.

“In situations as we face now, landlords should also play a part by calling tenants and starting a conversation to find out how tenants are doing during this pandemic,” she said. “Is it hard now for a lot of people, so tenants should be mindful of their landlords and if they can’t deliver on their rents in the foreseeable future, they should let their landlords know. Landlords should keep good tenants happy because they are hard to find.”


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