PETALING JAYA: Skyrocketing rentals for George Town’s heritage shop-houses are seeing many of its tenants leaving Penang’s heritage capital or closing their businesses altogether.
According to a Malay Mail Online report, this year alone, some 55 tenants along Penang Road, Kimberley Street and Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong have received notice of a 200 to 300 per cent hike in monthly rentals.
A tenant, Siew Thean Moh said he was told to move out although he was willing to pay the rental which was increased from RM450 to RM1,500.
“The owner’s management people came and told us to leave because our shop doesn’t look nice and doesn’t fit with their concept,” said Siew, who runs a shop selling burger patties in Kimberly Street.
Another shop in the same street, the Eng Heong Lan Praying Materials Shop, closed its business when the rental was increased.
A shoe-shop owner also interviewed by the portal said he would stay and pay the extra rent which increased to RM4,000 from RM1,300 as his 85-year old mother who had been living in the shop-house since she was 19, refused to move out.
George Town World Heritage Inc (GTWHI) general manager Dr Ang Ming Chee said the organisation was aware of the mass exodus of long-time residents and traders due to the increase in rentals and evictions over the past few years.
She said GTWHI and Komtar assemblyman Teh Lai Heng were currently looking for an amicable solution through discussions with owners and tenants.
She also suggested an open information system where the rental rates were publicly available so that tenants could compare and demand for fairer prices.