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Windhoek housing nightmares

17 August 2012
Author   Kakunawe Shinana

EVERY day the crescendo of complaints against the ramping of charges for properties whether for buying or rental is becoming louder.
If you rent a property or are looking for property to rent, you will be shocked to hear the high amounts being charged these days. It borders on obscenity and I wonder why it is this way.
This situation has put decent accommodation in the city out of reach not only for the poor but for aspiring first time home owners as well.

Although the city is currently experiencing a construction boom, with complexes popping up all across town at the blink of an eye, one wonders who the people suppose to live in such places are.
Do developers really even take enough time to think about the end users before they put all their work and effort in the construction of such accommodation complexes? If not I can just imagine the nightmares of cracking walls, ceilings and broken sinks in these complexes – with no takers in sight. I sure hope this will not be the case.
And anyway why are developers putting up town houses all over the place. What happened to the concept of building nice comfortable, spacious detached homes (houses) in this city?
Homes where you can have a proper garden and plant some trees. A home with enough space for your children to play without the fear of your child being hit by a neighbour’s passing vehicle.
Does the price of living in the city have to rob us of some of those much needed earthly comforts that are taken for granted?
Calls have been made for the Government and the real estate agents to restrict or put controls on the prices of properties but these seem to have fallen on deaf ears.
The other day I got a shock of my life at the rentals I was charged while fishing around for a place to rent and as a result I am still hunting for a place to rent two months after moving to the capital. I asked why Windhoek is not being fair to its people.
Everyone seems to have a different explanation why prices of property as well as rent being charged keep sky rocketing.
Some people blame it on Angolans. I was told that because Angolans usually pay without questions, whatever Windhoek landlords and sellers demand, and property owners to think everyone can afford their asking prices which usually range from N$4,000 for a single bedroom unit. Can imagine what a two-bedroom unit will cost these days? Shocking I tell you.
At least in the CBD rents range between N$6000 to N$7000 but more affluent areas such as Khomasdal, Rocky Crest, Windhoek West, North and Dorado, Hochland park where young people prefer to rent are catching on to the high-rent craze.
I could not believe my ears when I was told the rent for some of the properties I went to inspect but I was told to face reality because that’s just the ways things are.
I was told that because loaded Angolans find the high rentals of Windhoek cheaper than what they are used to paying in Luanda, paying these rentals becomes a non-issue to them with their U$D they carry around. This pushes those who cannot afford the rentals further away from the CBD.
This also depends on which part of Windhoek one prefers to live in. Anything below N$4,000 gets you stuck at apartments in the hood (anywhere in Katutura) or in a very small place closer to CBD.
“When Angolans come here, they have so much money that they pay anything these landlords ask. They are not used to living in places like those they living in here in Namibia because similar places in Angola are very, very expensive. Now landlords just think everybody including poor Namibians have money to pay for expensive accommodation,” said a commuter in a taxi. He however said he understood the landlord’s plight and they need to capitalise on the situation.
“Because the landlord pays a mortgage, insurances, utilities, maintenance, repair and income tax, they have to recoup these from the tenants that’s why the rents are so high. Landlords are just trying to survive too while expenses continue going up,” said another.
Websites and social network pages are full of complaints posted by disgruntled tenants over this very matter as average wage-earners are already struggling to make ends meet against the rising cost of living.
Prices of food, electricity and water bills and taxi fares have all gone up and people who are renting out their properties are increasing rents to cover their own expenses too.
I feel this situation has caused depression among many lower income earners of this country as living has been reduced turned into a vicious cycle of having to work only to pay for accommodation and nothing more.
There is an increasing number of younger people looking for rented accommodation when they would have been first time home buyers but cannot afford mortgage deals. As with other commodities, an increase in housing demand pushes up prices as the city also experiences an influx of people seeking better career opportunities and need accommodation.
The issue here is that rents in the capital city have soared uncontrolled for a long time and authorities should intervene to put a stop to the rot.
Rents should be controlled to stop the unscrupulous landlord from just putting up charges to increase their profits.
Government is supposed to protect its citizens, rent keeps going up uncontrollably while monthly income remains stagnant and this does not allow people to live within their means.