Rent Wahala In Ghana: How Housing Units Have Turned Into Goldmines

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Getting a place to lay one’s head has become a nightmare for most city dwellers. And to think after going through the pain to secure a-not-too decent place, you are now faced with the unpalatable possibility of scooping staggering amounts of money to the landlords (who have become vampires in broad day light) is hellish, to say the least.

Abraham Maslow, a man born in New York in 1908 and died in 1970 developed a simple concept on what human beings need most in life in order of importance. He rated biological and physiological needs, one of which consists of shelter, the most important of all human needs in the hierarchy of needs by humans. This simply means accommodation is one of the most important necessities for human survival, aside food, water and air.

The rural-urban migration has seen an imbalance in the ratio of houses to humans in Accra and some major cities across the country. People thus scramble for apartments which are seriously in deficit, a situation that make these landlords increase the rental charges of their properties astronomically. These charges sometimes do not even correlate with the present economic trends.

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Lots of tenants heaved a sigh of relief when the Ghana Rent Control Department, headed by Mr. Addo Soin Dombo granted an interview with Daily Graphic last year in January and admonished landlords not to charge more than six moths’ rent advance.

The Chief Rent Controller said before a landlord could increase rent charges, he was under law to contact the department for assessment and said such increment was supposed to be two per cent after every two years.

Mr. Addo further said rent could be increased when the landlord has made some improvement in the apartment where the tenant lived. However ever since this directive was issued, these stubborn landlords are yet to comply or implement it.

Tenants-landlord relationship has become frosty which to a large extent is borne out of the greed of the landlords. After the expiration of the tenancy agreement (which is often pegged at two years), the landlord capitalise on the vulnerability of his tenant to demand another ‘advance’ (deposit), failure of which you are cruelly ejected.

Other times, even when you are in the position to offer the money, they will still eject you on the premise that a relative wants to occupy the room. They set strange rules that is not part of the tenancy agreement. Even the time to come home to sleep, time to wake and days to play music are mixed in a bitter concoction and forced down the throat of the helpless tenant.

My landlord increase utilities whenever he feels like. I pay water bills every month even though that wasn’t our initial agreement (I have no option than to comply because of the perennial water shortage in the vicinity), coupled with garbage and toilet bills I don’t frequently use.

Many landlords complain that some tenants default in paying the old system of collecting rental charges every month. Some postpone it or even delay it which affects their budgetary scheme. Well, the fact is no tenant would deliberately decide to forfeit his obligation whilst he has his belongings and his family living in there. How would they vacate your premises without paying?

It is high time landlords stopped this practice and let tenants live a ‘meaningful’ life. The two years advance favours them a lot whilst it plunge some tenants into penury. The tenant can invest the whopping figures they demand into a profitable venture. This will yield huge returns and give him the pleasure of paying his rent on time, rather than working all his life on to give everything to the landlord.

I believe this will go a long way to bring peace and development in the life of the tenant and the country at large since it will encourage entrepreneurship.

Past governments have failed to make housing one of their key priorities. The least the government can do is to implement codes and stringent that will safeguard tenants (these laws must be enforceable)

A big chunk of the population is below the poverty line, with accommodation being their number one hurdle. What affect this cluster of people affects the nation as a whole. Constant harassment and pestering from landlords relative to rent affect the psychological makeup of an individual which in turn affects productivity.

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Ghbase Staff
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