In a dramatic turn of events, Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) tenants have obtained an injunction restraining their landlord from effecting a 43 percent adjustment of house rentals.
MHC planned to implement the adjustment in full effective September 1 2017 contrary to initial suggestions to roll it out in phases.
But the tenants are protesting the hike arguing that it is unreasonable and does not reflect the rising cost of living in the country.
Speaking in an interview, spokesperson for the tenants Goodnews Mphande said they decided to go to court as a last resort upon understanding that MHC was not backtracking on its decision.
He said their lawyer Maxwell Tembo of Banda and Associates obtained the injunction on Wednesday afternoon.
“Since the postponement of our meeting with MHC management and Minister of Housing and urban development, there has been no communication of any plans to have a roundtable discussion over the matter. And seeing that September 1 was fast approaching, we engaged our lawyers to help us make sure the hike is not effected,” he said.
Mphande said in the meantime, they will wait for the court’s determination on the matter.
According to the court order which Nation Online has seen and dated August 30, 2017, Judge Redson Kapindu granted the injunction pending the determination of the judicial review.
It reads: “Upon hearing the counsel on behalf of the above mentioned applicant, it is hereby ordered that an order of stay of execution of the decision of the respondent to adjust rentals by 48.76 percent with effect from September 1, 2017 be and is hereby granted pending the determination of the judicial review herein.”
In July, MHC announced that it would implement new house rentals for its units nationwide, after suspending implementation of previously planned rental increase with an average of 48 percent which was to be put into effect on July 1.
MHC justified its decision to raise rentals by an average of 48 percent to raise funds for maintenance works, construction of new houses and to meet escalating costs.
MHC chief executive officer Eunice Napolo is on record to have told journalists the corporation has in recent years been surviving on sales of plots and not on house rental revenue; hence, did not have enough funds to maintain its houses.
Boasting of about 6 000 housing units across the country, MHC is a statutory body established by an Act of Parliament in 1964 and is wholly owned by the Malawi Government.
Under the MHC Act of 1964 the corporation is among other functions empowered to construct houses, develop plots and maintain existing houses and plots.