Shelter is regarded as a basic human right. It is expected that every person should have a roof above their heads. In as much as this might be an agreed fact and it is written in many conventions, documents and it is the source of many workshops, looking for accommodation is not easy. Trying to find a house in Lusaka to rent is a nightmare. It literary drives you crazy and sucks the life out of you. My main problem really is not so much with house hunting, but rather the landlords. There appears to be some madness going around and I only have one explanation, the landlords must be smoking something.
The prices that some landlords are asking for their houses are simply ridiculous and bordering on insanity. How on this beautiful mother Zambia can a room, shower and toilet cost K 2 million? If this does not scream “INSANE PLEASE HELP!!” Then I do not know what does. Honestly this is daylight robbery; this is taking capitalism to the extremes. I know it is laissez-faire but come on something needs to be done. There is liberation of the market and then there is plain exploitation of a situation. Landlords should get off whatever drugs they are on when pricing their houses or cottages and get back their senses because we desperately need them to be sane.
I do understand that the shortage of accommodation is perhaps pushing the prices skywards but mwe bantu there are areas that certain prices can be acceptable. You would expect to have high accommodation prices in suburbs such as Kabulonga, Roma, Ibex and the like. However, these days even rental prices in areas such as Kabwata, Chilenje, Mtendere are have similar prices, how?
If that is not enough then you have those landlords who just wake up one day and decide to increase the rent. Threatening you, it is either you pay or you leave. Now what are you supposed to do in such a situation but fork out because you are at the landlord’s mercy. In the event that you decline to be pushed around, you wind back into the nightmare of house hunting.
To add insult to an injury which is already bleeding Agents are a real piece of work. They have mushroomed on every corner looking for their next victim. Taking you on a wild goose chase just so they can pocket K60, 000 for every viewing that you attend. Despite telling them the type of house you are looking for, the price and location, they deliberately give a deaf ear to this. Instead they choose to hear what they think you should have said, so they call you up with houses that when you view are either too far or are run down. Still they expect to be paid the viewing fee.
There seriously needs to be some regulation in the real estate industry in this country to avoid the exploitation of some of us. Nearly half of the salary goes to paying rent because of the exorbitant rentals charged. There should be a framework under which landlords and agents should operate under. The Banks, communication companies, mining companies all have a regulator, so even the real estate’s sector should be regulated. We need rentals to be reasonable and houses should be valued appropriately according to the location and what it contains.
I know the answer is to build or buy my own house, but that does not solve the current situation for the tenant. In the meantime all we can hope for is that the Landlords get off whatever they are smoking, so that we can sleep in peace without the fear of being kicked out the next day.