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Expats laud Vietnamese landlords for discounting rent to share COVID-19 burden

Expats laud Vietnamese landlords for discounting rent to share COVID-19 burden

Friday, April 10, 2020, 16:19 GMT+7
Expats laud Vietnamese landlords for discounting rent to share COVID-19 burden
A photo shows a landlord's announcement on offering discounts to tenants to share difficulties brought about by COVID-19 in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Supplied

A German living in Ho Chi Minh City recently posted a photo to Facebook drawing attention to a landlord who offered rental discounts to tenants in order to “share the difficulties” brought about by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“Finally, some are showing humanity! Bless them! Whose else’s rent has been reduced? Spread the love,” she captioned the photo of an announcement proclaiming, “In order to share the difficulties due to COVID-19, the landlord reduced your room rate by 20% for guests in April and May.”

As government regulations and guidance related to social distancing measures have led to the closure of businesses nationwide, many landlords in Vietnam are offering a helping hand to their lessors by offering discounts to both commercial and residential tenants. 

The German national, who preferred to stay anonymous, said that the photo was taken in her friend’s building in Binh Thanh District.

“[My friend] took the photo and sent it to me,” she said, explaining that she shared it because she admired the landlord’s helpfulness during these tough times.

“I think these landlords deserve credit because not many people are showing empathy during this hard time that’s literally affecting the whole world.”

The woman, originally from Berlin, has lived in Vietnam for three and a half years, long enough, she says, to feel “at home here.”

Her Facebook post has caught the attention of hundreds of people who offered “love” and “like” reactions, as well as dozens of comments with many sharing similar experiences with their landlords.

“[My rent] was reduced by US$100, awesome landlords,” Verena Malherbe, a financial advisor from South Africa, commented.

In an email exchange with Tuoi Tre News, Malherbe explained that her Vietnamese landlord justified the rent reduction by explaining that many of his tenants “are not working or earning full income” right now.

“My landlord has always been [the] most helpful, kindest and most generous [person], and I’ve lived in this apartment for a year already,” Malherbe said.

The landlord declined an interview, stating that he preferred to stay anonymous and “just wants to help without being mentioned.”

While Malherbe admitted that she is “so thankful to live here,” the 53-year-old is no stranger to the kindness of local people after having lived in Ho Chi Minh City for 18 months.

“This is not the first time I have encountered Vietnamese generosity, sympathy, and helpfulness,” she recalled.

“Since I arrived in Vietnam, I have only been treated with the utmost respect and friendliness. This is why I love Vietnam. I have always experienced a wonderful sense of community here.”

Verena Malherbe is seen in a photo she provided Tuoi Tre News

Verena Malherbe is seen in a photo she provided Tuoi Tre News.

Malherbe’s experience with her empathetic landlord was mirrored by Michaela Anne Barthus, a South African English and science teacher who has lived in Ho Chi Minh City for two and a half years.

“They sent us a letter to say they will be discounting the rent by ten percent for April and May, and if things continue then they will consider giving us a bigger discount,” Barthus told Tuoi Tre News.

Kerry Watterson, from Ireland, is another foreign tenant whose rent was discounted by a local landlord. 

For Watterson, the discount was a whopping 30 percent.  

“I was extremely grateful for the offer because my partner’s salary has been significantly reduced for the foreseeable future,” Watterson said. 

“I think my building management and landlord are doing all they can to help the tenants.”

‘Caring and sharing’ people

Some tenants, however, have refused discount offers from their landlords.

“He needs the money more than me,” South African math teacher Sandra Swanepoel shared her feelings about a rent reduction offer from her landlord. 

“His business had to close and my salary was not cut, so I said ‘thank you, but no thanks.’

Swanepoel currently lives on the first floor of her landlord’s coffee shop which has been closed for several days owing to regulations restricting social interaction meant to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“I know that he is suffering from this. I am working at an international school and we [have been] teaching online since the beginning of the school closures," she said.

“I still got paid every month and I’ve never considered asking my landlord [for a discount]. 

“He [offered] obviously out of the goodness of his heart.”

Sandra Swanepoel is seen in a photo she provided Tuoi Tre News

Sandra Swanepoel is seen in a photo she provided Tuoi Tre News.

Swanepoel has lived in the same apartment since moving to Vietnam three and half years ago, more than enough to witness the dozens of occasions her landlord has been “kind and considerate."

“My landlord and his wife are so good to me. They always park my bike in the evening so that it’s easy for me to leave in the morning because they know I’m the first one to leave the house,” she said.

Swanepoel added that she considers the landlord and his family as her own family in Vietnam and is thankful for the support they have given her when she found herself in trouble, despite the fact that they can only communicate through Google Translate.   

That “caring and sharing” spirit is one of the reasons why she has stayed in Vietnam so long, she said.

“I originally planned to live five years abroad in five different countries and Vietnam was the first," she recalled. "But after living here for four months, I realized that I was happy here and do not want to leave again.”

Swanepoel summed up her experience in Vietnam with one example.

“When Vietnamese people have bought a fruit, they will cut up the fruit and share with everyone in their vicinity, until there is only one piece left for them. How wonderful is that? I have never seen that in any other place.”

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Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News


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