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Softbank-backed Ziroom to cut execs’ pay to halve rent for over 44,000 tenants

Ziroom will waive 50% of the rent and all service fees, including internet and utilities.

Photo: Tuchong

Beijing-headquartered online rental platform Ziroom said its management is willing to cut their first-quarter salaries between 20% to 50% to waive part of the rent for 44,318 customers who are currently unable to access their apartments due to quarantine measures caused by the coronavirus outbreak, according to a post on the company’s official Weibo account on Sunday.

The group of renters includes those now quarantined in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak in Hubei province, who cannot return to their Ziroom apartments, and those who are currently outside Wuhan but have rented apartments in the city.

As part of the initiative, Ziroom will waive 50% of the rent and all service fees, including internet and utilities, between March 1 and the date the tenant returns to the apartment, up to March 31. These conditions apply only to those that will continue renting through the company, said the firm. For those who would like to terminate their contracts with Ziroom, the termination will be free of penalties.

Ziroom, which collected USD 1 billion from Softbank last November, did not disclose how many high-level executives will participate in this move, which is just the latest of a series of initiatives by the company to mitigate the impact from the coronavirus outbreak. The company also cut 50% off the February rent and services fees for nearly 50,000 Ziroom tenants in Wuhan, which totaled nearly RMB 30 million, the company said last week via WeChat.

Besides decreasing rents out of their executives’ pockets, Ziroom has also invited landlords to waive rents, according to their own circumstances.

KrASIA found on Monday that 254 landlords have joined this initiative as of March 9, waiving rent for a total of 7,545 days, according to Ziroom’s website, which shows real-time participation from landlords.

Ziroom is among a slew of online housing rental companies that have been hardly hit by the virus. US-listed Danke Apartment nearly month-long dispute with landlords incurred governmental inquires’ into the sector’s business model, which relied partially on renters’ loans from banks for expansion. Danke made it clear late last month that the company was unable to pay its landlords on time by offering them three options to waive part of the rent.

Ziroom, which leases rooms from individual landlords in nine major cities in China, has 500,000 landlords and 1.5 million tenants on its platform.