Landlords urged to be flexible with tenants

Azlan Othman

Landlords are encouraged to be considerate and flexible with their tenants by reducing rental at a time when business is dwindling due to the COVID-19 outbreak in Brunei.

“The government has no legal rights to reduce their rentals, but landlords are encouraged to be considerate wherever they can. They may have their own commitment and so on, making it difficult for the government to tell them what to do. But we can encourage them to reduce rental if they can,” said Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah.

“One should think about the situation if the landlord has no flexibility to reduce rental or still maintains the same rental. If the tenants cannot survive on that rental, they may decide to move out or if their business collapses, the landlord will suffer and in the current environment, it is already difficult to find another immediate tenant,” the minister said.

“The landlord needs to have a ‘give and take’ policy. The government has introduced a lot of measures to support businesses. And if the landlord assists their tenant, the tenant will appreciate the gesture. When time becomes better, the tenant will continue to stay on and rent the premise. It works both ways,” the minister added.

“Banks are open to negotiations, provided the landlords are affected by COVID-19,” he said.

Asked whether such loan deferment announced recently also applies to civil servants, Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew said it depends whether their businesses are affected by COVID-19. They can go to the bank if their salary is not enough to pay for the repayment, he said.

An example of this is when a civil servant cannot pay the principal for a building or a house he bought and rented it to a third party. But if he is buying a house and stays in the house and COVID-19 does not affect his salary, this financial measures is not for him, the minister said.

“We have to be careful that whatever we offer, we offer for those who are in need of help. If we start to give these benefits to people who do not need it, the benefit would become less and less for those who really need it. The credibility of the bank is also weakened if we give benefits to everybody,” the minister said.