20 June 2003

Ghana: Huge Rent Advance Renders Thousands Homeless in Kumasi

Kumasi — Painstaking findings by Chronicle in Kumasi indicate that thousands of people in the metropolis are homeless. They are unable to afford what can be described as the colossal amount of monies demanded as rent advance by landlords and landladies in and around the Kumasi metropolis.

A number of prospective tenants most of whom are in their late 20s and early 30s shared similar sentiments and called on the government to expedite action on the proposed law to regulate rent advance in the country.

It would be recalled that during the presentation of this year's budget statement to parliament, the Minister of Finance, Hon. Yaw Osafo Maafo, indicated government's plan to introduce a law that will restrict house owners from taking rent advance exceeding six months.

The findings established that house owners in the main suburbs of Kumasi, such as Bantama, Safe, Amakom, Krofrom, inter-alia, take as much as between three and a half to four million cedis covering between six and eight years as rent advance.

Offices in the main central business district of Adum are going for between 50 and 100 million cedis. Other areas like Abuakwa and Afrancho, which are in the Atwima and Offinso districts respectively, but are not too distant from the territorial boundaries of the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly [KMA], and which used to be the safe havens for low and middle income earners, house owners offer their rooms at 2.5 and 3 million cedis.

Enquiries at the Ashanti Regional office of the Rent Control Department have confirmed the findings, and have also revealed an alarming number of tenancy cases reported at the department daily.

In an interview, the Ashanti Regional Principal Rent Officer, Mr. D. A. Asomani, condemned the attitude of some house owners and tenants who fail to notify his department before entering into a tenancy agreement.

"We tend to know that a landlord or lady has taken so much rent advance, which is a violation of the rent law in Ghana, only when there is a problem between the two, and brought to us for settlement," Mr. Asomani complained.

He said the problem of high rent advance would be difficult to solve, as tenants are always ready to pay without taking the charges into consideration.

The rent officer, therefore, called on prospective tenants to always consult his department for advice and also advised that Ghanaians should develop the attitude of building, since, according to him, sometimes amounts paid as rent advance by some people could put up one or two buildings.

Mr. Joseph Appiagyei, a landlord, however, blamed the situation and attitudes of some landlords to the high cost of building materials in the country and called on the government to subsidize the cost of building materials so that more people can acquire their own houses to reduce the high demand for rooms, which is a recipe for high rent charges.

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