It will be hard to find new tenants in this Covid- 19 crisis, house owners say
Fatema Kaniz, who is in her 70s, fully depends on her income from her house rents to bear daily expenses of her seven-member family.
She owns four flats in a four-storey building and five tin-shed rooms at Jafrabad in Dhaka.
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, one of her flats has been vacant for the last three months while another has remained vacant for the last one month.
All the tenants of her tin shed rooms have not paid any rent since February. The rest of the remaining tenants paid 70%-80% of their rent money.
"Recently I had to pay Tk90,000 worth of utility bills from my savings", Kaniz, a retired primary school teacher, told Dhaka Tribune.
Helal Uddin Ahmed, another house owner at Dhanmondi’s Shankar area, has two flats in a building and 12 tin-shed rooms beside the building.
Six families living in the tin shed rooms left Dhaka before the government declared the general holidays. One tenant paid 20% less rent in last two months. Three rooms in the tin shed complex have been vacant since February and no one has come to rent those in the last four months, Helal said.
Atiqun Nahar, who owns a house in Mirpur Section 11, said: “We have decided to decrease at least 20% of the rent amount as some of our tenants want to leave. It will be hard to find new tenants now, if our current ones leave.”
Many middle- and lower-income families are leaving their current residence to move to cheaper accommodation, while many others are leaving Dhaka, unable to afford housing in the city anymore.
As the pandemic situation continues to deteriorate, landlords are passing a difficult time with no one willing to rent their vacant flats.
The correspondent, while walking through the streets of Mohammadpur, Lalmatia and Rayerbazar area on Wednesday, saw a lot of to-let signs and posters on notice boards of many buildings.
Many flat owners were unwilling to speak about their financial crisis. However they expressed frustrations over utility bills and service charges which have to be paid every month, no matter if the flats are empty or occupied.
According to real estate portal Bproperty, Dhaka has a total of around 150,000 building with 900,000 flats.
If a family has five members, then 4.5 million people live in these 900,000 flats, said Rajbeen Ahsan, general manager at Bproperty.
The portal has plans to prepare exact statistics within a month of the number of flats that have gone vacant after the pandemic started.
Rustom Ali, general secretary of Truck and Covered Van Owners’ Association, said they are not calculating the total trips regarding house shifting but it has increased many folds since the pandemic
“Families leaving Dhaka have transported their belongings using 1.5 to 3 ton trucks. The drivers for this types of trucks are passing a busy time since May," he said.
The transport leader, who also owns a house in Mohammadpur, expressed deep concern about the vacant flats.