The Cámara de Propietarios de Bienes Inmuebles (Caprobi) – Chamber of Real Estate Owners – expressed concern over a proposal, which legislators and the government are discussing, among others, to defer the payment rent on residential and commercial premises for three months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
On Tuesday, the Legislative Assembly and Executive Power created four working groups to discuss measures for the covid-19 emergency.
A first table will discuss actions for the debtors of the national financial system; a second will discuss reforms to the Labor Capitalization Fund (FCL); while a third the Mandatory Pension Regime (ROP); and the fourth, rents and contracts.
With respect to rents, a draft proposal from the Executive Power would postpone the payment of rental of commercial premises and homes for three months.
Tenants would have to start paying the deferred monthly payments six months after the law comes into effect, with extra monthly payments starting at a minimum of 5% of the total accumulated amount, to which on Wednesday it was updated to at least 20%.
In addition, the proposal includes the suspension of evictions for four months.
Two legislators want the forum to discuss two additional items, the first by PLN legislator Wagner Jiménez, which would also introduce a three-month moratorium on judicial or administrative evictions that would apply to a home renter who has lost their job, was previously unemployed or show that, due to the health crisis, they do not receive enough income to pay the corresponding rent; Pedro Muñoz, legislator for the PUSC, wants discussion on an initiative that would allow the suspension or renegotiation of all types of legal contracts that exist in the country, “due to an event of force majeure.”
The discussion table on rents is composed of, in addition to Jiménez and Muños, Karine Niño, of the PLN; Otto Roberto Vargas, of the PRSC; Patricia Villegas, of the PIN; Mileidy Alvarado, of the PRN; Catalina Montero, from PAC; Jonathan Prendas, from New Republic; Pedro Muñoz, of the PUSCM; and José María Villalta, of the FA.
For the government: Irene Campos, Minister of Housing and Human Settlements (Mivah).
According to Pablo Guier Acosta, president of Caprobi, there are approximately 300,000 rental houses in the country, whose income depends on thousands of families, from whom these rents cannot be taken away.
“The sacrifice cannot imply the absolute suicide of any sector, nor of owners, tenants or the government,” said Guier.
He added that many real estate owners are older adults who saved to invest in a house or commercial premises to lease out, and their financial well being depends on such activity, which would suffer not only economic hardships but could also affect their mental and physical health
“Those who have become unemployed need help, but that does not harm the rest of the country because, if not, what we are going to have is not only an economic crisis, but a medical crisis, heart attacks, sick people, depression, being witha zero income, we all have to protect ourselves together,” argued Guier.
Another concern is the impact on shopping centers, since they have many employees and what the country least needs is for them to go bankrupt and generate more layoffs.
In addition, Guier noted that the project lacks conditions to access the benefit of the postponement since it does not require checking if the tenant is really affected by the pandemic.
For Caprobi’s president, the government would also have to negotiate a moratorium on the payment of municipal taxes and patents.
“At this time we have to protect as far as possible families, each Costa Rican, from the possibilities we have in politics and regulations to where possible,” argued legislator Catalina Montero, saying that she agrees with the project presented by the government, and they will seek to unify the projects that are handled at the rents table.
On the other hand, Jonathan Prendas, of the Nueva República bloc, said that they should refine the draft so as not to leave unprotected one group in the desire to protect the other.
“We are fully available at this virtual negotiating table to reach an understanding that we are in a crisis that warrants urgent decisions,” said Prendas.