Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) has increased the monthly rental for its house snationwide in a move Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) says will hurt consumers currently grappling with rising cost of living.
In a telephone interview yesterday, MHC spokesperson Ernestina Lunguzi confirmed the upward adjustments, but said she could not give more details until today when she will be in the office.
“Yes, I can confirm that we have indeed hiked the rentals, but I cannot give you more details because it is a Sunday. Let’s talk tomorrow [today],” she said.
Some notices we have seen show that the new hiked rentals range from K28 000 to K45 000 per month.
The adjustments come days after the country’s five water boards raised water tariffs by an average of 52 percent with effect from November 1 2021.
The water tariff adjustments also came a month after the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) adjusted upwards pump prices for petrol and diesel with an average 22.8 percent.
In an interview, one of the MHC tenants from Nkolokosa Township in Blantyre, Maggie Banda, said while she understood that times are slowly becoming tough, the adjustment in house rental was disappointing.
She said: “It would have been better that before adjusting the rentals, the Malawi Housing Corporation should be engaging us tenants first. I will now be paying K28 000 from K25 000 and with the increase in water tariffs, I will have to adjust my budget which will be a bit tough.”
In a separate interview, another MHC tenant from Chitawira Township, Chipiliro Kayange, also bemoaned the increase, especially at a time prices of other goods and services are also on the rise.
He said his house rental has gone up from K28 000 to K33 000 per month.
Reacting to the adjustments yesterday, Cama executive director John Kapito said any increase in the cost of goods and services for people whose incomes are low is painful and unbearable.
He said: “The recent increase in the rentals by MHC is a result of a failed government system. We have always said that yearly gradual increases are much better than holding such increases for more than three years because the pain and effects of the gradual increases are less painful.”
Kapito said the increase in prices of goods and services in the country is becoming unbearable for consumers stressing that Cama will engage relevant authorities to recommend mitigating alternatives.
Meanwhile, consumers keep paying for more as the retail price for maize, which contributes 42.5 percent to the inflation basket, has hit K200 per kilogramme (kg) in October, according to the Institute for Food Policy Research International (Ifpri) September 2021 Malawi Monthly Maize Market Report.
In August 2017, some tenants obtained an injunction pending a judicial review restraining MHC from implementing a 48 percent hike which was later reduced to 43 percent.
However, the High Court in Zomba dismissed the tenants’ application for both the injunction and judicial review which resulted in MHC adjusting the rentals.
MHC owns about 6 000 housing units across the country and has over 60 000 potential tenants on waiting list.
The corporation is a statutory body established by an Act of Parliament and is wholly owned by the Malawi Government.