Zimbabwe’s Rentals Suspension Regulations Explained
On Tuesday, Zimbabwe’s cabinet resolved that all rentals owing from April until the end of the lockdown period have been suspended and that tenants would pay the amounts owing in instalments after the end of the lockdown.
This comes almost a month after the initial suggestion to defer rentals was discussed only to be ultimately dropped when the national lockdown was announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The initial statement from government spokesperson and Permanent Secretary for Information Broadcasting and Publicity services said that “there be a moratorium on both commercial and residential evictions due to applicable lease obligations due from April to end of #LockdownZim, including payment of rentals for those months.”
However, the government has since gazetted Statutory Instrument 96 of 2020 which governs the issue of the suspended rentals. According to S.I. 96 of 2020, the deferrals on rent apply only to residential properties and the amounts owing will have to be paid in 3 equal instalments at the end of the lockdown.
Below is a simple explanation and breakdown of S.I. 96 explaining how the rent deferral regulations work.
- The moratorium on payment of rentals is only for RESIDENTIAL PREMISES and extends to mortgage payments.
- You as the tenant can decide to pay full rent when due (which is advisable if you can) or can pay part rent (again advisable to pay what you can) but if you do not pay in full or do not pay anything at all then you are assumed to be unable to pay due to the lockdown
- you are deemed a “protected tenant” (you do not have to show incapacity to pay in fact you don’t even need to allege it) deeming means “held to be so by the law”
- as a protected tenant (occupant who does not pay rent in full for residential premises under lockdown) you cannot be evicted during the lockdown, your things cannot be confiscated or taken and held towards payment (such actions by landlords are illegal and courts cannot order this either)
- the protection given to you is that (1) you are “deemed” unable to pay rent due to lockdown and (2) whilst your liability to pay rent remains it is the time frame or due date for payment that has been extended (deferred) until after the lockdown ends.
- your liability remains which means you will be obliged to pay all arrear amounts when the lockdown ends. But, this will not be due in one lump sum but rather over a space of three months for each month in arrears (See regs for the examples) and it will be in addition to the full months rent due for that month (the first month in which we exit lockdown).
- So month one in which we exit lockdown, you will need to pay that months rent AND 1/3 of a months arrear rent owed, and so on until you repay all arrear months rent.
- Put another way, if your monthly rent is $6,000 the most you will need to repay in a particular month (including catching up rentals not paid but owed under lockdown) will be $6,000 for that actual month plus a maximum of 1/3 of monthly arrear rent being $2,000 in this example which equals a total of $8,000 payable in the first month we exit lockdown and $8,000 in month two, and so on for every month after that until you have repaid all arrear rentals after which your rent will revert back to $6,000 being the actual monthly rent
- no interest or penalties can be put on for failure to pay rent under the lockdown.
- if however we exit lockdown and you fail to pay per the “catch up calculations” explained above, then you can be evicted and could get a court order against you which could include the sale of your things to pay the debt.
- It will be important to understand the calculations and ensure you do not default or do not “short pay” the arrear catch ups once we exit lockdown.
- further info can be ascertained directly from the regs.
You can download Statutory Instrument 96 of 2020 which has the full regulations on the link below.
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