Some tenants in Blantyre have reacted angrily to Malawi Housing Corporation’s (MHC) decision to hike house rentals by an average of 48 percent, demanding that the hikes be revised.
MHC chief executive officer (CEO) Eunice Napolo told journalists at a news conference in Blantyre on Friday that her corporation arrived at the decision in order to generate more funds for its maintenance works, construction of more houses and to meet escalating costs.
Communication to the tenants, according to letters addressed to one of the tenants in Nyambadwe, was made on May 31 2017, but in a response as a group of tenants in Nyambadwe to MHC in a letter dated June 5 2017, the tenants are protesting the hikes.
MHC national tenant association chairperson Mervin Kaumphawi in an interview yesterday expressed shock at the corporation’s decision, saying it was harsh and not considerate.
Kaumphawi disclosed that the association has since called for a meeting today at Chitawira Primary School in Blantyre to come up with a common position.
“The hike is too much. Most of us occupying these houses are retired officers and have occupied the houses for 50 to 60 years.
“ We have complained to the President on several occasions, and not this President [Peter Mutharika] only, but our cries have not been heard. No one wants to listen to us, poor tenants,” Kaumphawi complained.
He said their members across the nation were disappointed with the corporation’s lack of consultation when they were assured of the same, adding meetings in other regions would also take place.
“We are saying no to these hikes. They are unreasonable and unrealistic. For example, my two-bedroom house has jumped from K23 000 to K36 300. This is way beyond my reach. I cannot afford this,” he said.
The chairperson said today’s meeting would determine their next move. A group of tenants, who are renting one-bedroom apartments, argued in the letter to MHC CEO that the adjustment of the rentals from K55 000 to K84 700, representing a 54 percent rise, was dismaying.
The tenants argued the percentage is 10 times the previous percentage, citing 2016’s 10 percent, which was from K50 000 to K55 000, and 2015 six percent adjustment, which saw the corporation increasing rentals from K47 190 to K50 000.
The tenants in the letter reminded MHC that originally, the corporation was formed with a purpose of providing affordable housing for the middle and lower class sectors of the working population.
They said to implement the proposed rentals would translate into many of them not being able to afford to house themselves and their families in MHC houses.
But MHC CEO, Napolo, told the journalists at the Friday news conference that the corporation was of late surviving on sales of plots and not on house rentals and revenue, hence funds were not sufficient to maintain houses.
She said the hikes, made differently based on class of houses and location, has been implemented with government’s approval effective July 1 2017.