With the opening of offices in January, the PG owners had some hope of getting by, however, the sudden spurt in COVID-19 cases has quashed their hopes.

File photo of a PG AccommodationRepresentative Image/ PTI
news Business Saturday, April 10, 2021 - 19:45

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, many educational institutions and businesses have shifted to the virtual realm and have been carrying out their work from home. As a result, professionals and students in paying guest (PG) facilities in Bengaluru have moved back home. Many PG owners in the city say that they are now staring at the possibility of shutting their shops and finding alternative means to sustain themselves. 

“Women who stayed here were either students attending coaching classes or working professionals. With the news of the second wave of COVID-19, shutting of physical classes and offices allowing work from home, many have begun going back to their hometowns. We hardly have 10 to 15 women staying with us presently. We provide them with food three times a day, so they don’t have to go to hotels. These expenses aside, we have to pay Rs 1 lakh for utilities and rent of the building. How will we sustain this?” asks Subramanya Gowda of Prema PG for women in Rajarajeshwari Nagar.  

Similarly, the owner of VBR PG for men and women, V Reddy, said that it was getting increasingly difficult for them to sustain with little to no business. “Around 120 people can reside in our facility for men and women. We hardly have 20 tenants staying with us right now. Many big companies are hesitant to call their employees back to offices, which is making them return to their hometowns. In January, we got a handful of enquiries for accommodation but they later cancelled after cases began rising again,” said Reddy. 

He added that the owner of the building they run their business in had not collected rent when the pandemic started but was now asking for at least 50% rent, in addition to the loans he had to repay. “We have given ourselves time until June. If the situation does not improve, we have to shut down the PG,” Reddy added. 

The owner of another facility, Madhavi PG in Koramangala, said that their turnover before the pandemic was estimated at Rs 4 lakh to Rs 5 lakh, which has come down to Rs 60,000 at present. “Whether I have one tenant or 10, it does not matter. The expenses pertaining to WiFi bills, electricity bills and other commercial expenses remain the same. With the rising cases, we don’t know what lies ahead. We have less than 10 tenants, and they also stayed because we cut down on the rent,” the owner said.

Some facilities in the city have not been admitting new tenants due to fear over the spread of the coronavirus. “Business has not been good since the pandemic began. We had nearly 20 to 25 women staying here but now we have only eight women. We have not been admitting anyone because of the rapid spread of coronavirus. We are managing to sustain with the meagre income that we are getting,” said an owner of a PG in Yeshwanthpur. 

The PG owners also said that they don’t have a platform to share their grievances. “Even if we wanted to approach the government, there is no unity among the PG owners, nor is there any union we know of,” said Reddy.

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