Whilst government has urged companies and individual landlords to give their tenants rent relief during the coronavirus lockdown, parastatal Civil Aviation Authority Botswana (CAAB) has refused to grant entities renting units at its airports rent relief.
It is said that some of the tenants that had leased units at Sir Seretse Khama, Maun, Kasane and PG Matante International Airports had requested the Authority to grant them rental relief to cushion them from the pandemic that shut down businesses.
The businesses also requested to suspend operations as a result of the suspension of airlines during the lockdown.
However, the Authority acceded to the request to suspend operations, but turned down rental relief saying that it also has obligations to pay its suppliers.
“The authority has been faced with a flood of requests from companies leasing units at the above-mentioned four airports to temporarily suspend operations and grant rental relief due to suspension of airlines operations as a result of the global COVID-19 epidemic. The authority is unable to provide rental relief at this time because it is also equally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Authority is obliged to fulfil its obligations by paying its suppliers and it depends on its generated revenue,” CAAB Acting CEO, Kabo Phutietsile clarified.
But the move contradicts government’s recent stance that called on all landowners to grant rental relief to tenants during the coronavirus lockdown. In response to Mmegi, the Authority’s Head of Public
Nkwe however said the CAAB was open for negotiations for those with challenges to pay their rental.
“The Authority’s position is that every tenant has the responsibility to pay their rental or negotiate with the Authority should they have challenges in paying rentals as per the conditions of the Lease Agreement,” said Nkwe.
He said CAAB’s stance does not go against the government’s decision on rental during lockdown.
“The government allows for and encourages the tenants to negotiate with landlords and to agree to a plan should they face hardships in paying their rentals. The obligation to pay rental remains in force unless a plan has been entered into between the parties. Tenants, per the Lease Agreement may approach the CAAB to arrange and agree to a payment plan. I can confirm that those who have approached the CAAB as per the lease agreement, are being assisted,” he added.
He stated that both the government regulations and CAAB agreement with its tenants allows for negotiations on payment plans when payment of rentals is a challenge due to COVID-19 or not.