By Ben Garcia
Despite calls for a rent moratorium in Kuwait, there is no government decision yet whether tenants should pay the monthly rent during the ongoing shutdown. The deadline for paying rent for many tenants all over Kuwait is on the 10th of the month, but many expat workers have received partial or no salaries.
“I have informed the haris that I will not be able to pay this month, but he insisted we have to pay by April 10,” said Anna (not her real name), a tenant in Farwaniya. “I did not get a salary in March. I am a salon worker, and since the government shut salons in early March, I do not have any money in hand right now,” she told Kuwait Times tearfully.
Mohamed, a mandoub from Egypt who lives in Salmiya, shared similar sentiments. “How can I pay? They know we haven’t been paid for the month of March, or even April. I will not pay a single dinar even if they drag me to the police station,” he said. He told Kuwait Times his haris already reminded him three times on April 1, 3 and 5 to pay up.
“Everyone in the world knows about the crisis. This is not just in Kuwait – this crisis is everywhere. They should be thankful because we are not crying for help with regards to food, now that we are all locked down. My remaining money is reserved for survival in case the situation worsens; I will not give it away,” the visibly-upset tenant said.
Other tenants in Fahaheel have also been reminded to pay the rent. They live four to a flat, but all have no work and no pay. “Our haris came yesterday and reminded us to pay. But we told him we cannot pay for March and April, since we do not have work, and the company is not willing to pay our salaries. In fact, we do not even have enough food; we are only surviving since some Good Samaritan is giving us some food to survive. If the crisis persists, we will definitely die,” one of the tenants stressed.
Mary Grace and her flat mates in Mahboula were also reminded by their building haris to pay the rent before the April 10 deadline. “We wrote a letter requesting a waiver to pay the rent. But the building owner told us not even a single dinar in discount will be given. We all have no work and we are staying at home since early March. I don’t know what to do – the flat is under my name. My flat mates are not willing to pay because they do not have money too. The building owner is too hardheaded and wouldn’t accept any explanation. I don’t know what to do,” she said.
Many expats in Kuwait share rooms and apartments to save money. The average rent of a two-bedroom apartment is KD 300 to KD 350 depending on the size of the rooms. For a thrifty tenant, sharing it with other boarders makes the rent affordable. Most expat workers in Kuwait are paid KD 250 to KD 500.