Stating that the issues surrounding rent in the British Virgin Islands will only get worse, Third District Representative Julian Fraser has given strong indications that he does not support any suspension of rent payments during this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking at a press conference by Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition on Tuesday, Fraser said: “I was listening to the radio, and I heard someone raise the issue about landlords giving tenants a break. I hope no one comes to me and say they need a break because I need my money. These are the things that you hear, and I know it is only going to get worse.”
Fraser shared those sentiments on while outlining reasons the government should move forward with plans to reopen the local tourism sector.
That sector continues to be among the hardest hit from the pandemic, which has caused border closures and damaging disruptions in tourism-related operations.
Difficulty to meet obligations will continue
The Opposition legislator said hospitality workers whose livelihoods are dependent tourism will only continue to face difficulties to meet their obligations.
“So the best thing that can happen is that we nail it (make preparations to reopen the territory for tourism) now. We should have nailed it already because the more this thing drags on, the worse it becomes. It’s not like having a bruise on your chin or your shoulder that is going to get healed over time. This is a wound that is going to get worse if we don’t address it and address it now. So that’s why we are sounding the alarm,” Fraser explained.
Landlords depend on rent to survive
Weighing in on the discussion, Opposition Leader Marlon Penn said he agrees with the Third District Representative.
He said: “We talk about the tenants but a lot of the landlords depend on the rent for their survival. If the landlords don’t have the rent from their tenants, how can they survive and move forward?”
“These are real issues, so we have to find the balance, we had the same concerns after hurricanes Irma and Maria. We have to learn to co-exist with COVID-19 and our economy,” added Penn, who is an executive member of the National Democratic Party (NDP).
Just weeks ago, former NDP Chairman and legislator Myron Walwyn said in a social media post that he believed the government should implement an interim policy that would prevent landlords from evicting tenants who are not able to meet their rent obligations because of the COVID-19 pandemic.