Eligible renters will have 12 months to pay back deferred rent
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis today unveiled a rental assistance program that allows individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to have 40 percent of their rent deferred for three months.
Minnis told Parliament there should be no evictions between now until the end of June; however, he noted the program is limited to residential rentals only, and individuals whose employment or income have been affected by COVID-19.
Renters must be up to date with their rental payments prior to April to be eligible for relief.
“Individuals will have to provide documentation to their landlord to qualify for this program,” the prime minister said.
“Those who qualify will be able to defer or postpone a portion of their rent payment for the next three months. Landlords will be required to defer 40 percent of rent due per month for a three month period beginning with the month of April 2020.
“Landlords will not for the three month period be able to evict tenants who are in good standing prior to April. Landlords will not be able to disconnect the electricity or water for tenants who were in good standing prior to April,” he said.
Minnis continued: “This means that if the individuals rent is $800 per months they will be required to pay $480 per month and the remainder will be deferred or postponed. At the end of the month period, individuals will have twelve months to pay back the deferred amount.
“This means that individuals will have to pay the unpaid rent back to the landlord but will have a full calendar year to do so. Landlords will not be able to evict a tenant who was in good standing as of March of this year. That means that there should be no evictions between now and the end o June unless the tenant had been already legally eligible for eviction before April.”
Still, the prime minister stressed this is not a permission for individuals to not pay their rent.
“I advise those who are able to pay their full rent to do so,” Minnis said.
“It is important to recognize also that landlords depend on rental payments for their own income and to pay off their bank mortgages on their rental properties.”
According to Minnis, commercial banks are open to deferring mortgage payments on rental properties to the extent that landlords are affected by this program.
“To qualify for this program a renter must meet the certain criteria,” he said.
“They must be renting residential property inside the Bahamas. They must be paying repaying a monthly rent of $2,000 a month or less. There must be no more than one month in arrears with rent. They must be a Bahamian citizen or legal resident and they must be able to demonstrate that their employment or income stream has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Minnis added that renters will have to provide the documents necessary to show their income has been impacted and sign an agreement to pay the month deferred. This he said will be mandatory for all landlords with qualifying tenants.
He reiterated hopes for tenants and landlords to work together during this “unprecedented time”.
“I am asking for a sense of national solidarity, personal and collective responsibility and good will by all,” Minnis added.