General News of Friday, 23 March 2018
The 2016 presidential candidate of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), Ivor Kobina Greenstreet, is dismayed that despite his pleas to President Akufo-Addo to intervene and stop the killer rents being paid by tenants in the country, the situation still persists.
Last year, the lawyer and sniper cum scuba diver, pleaded with the president to review the Rent Act and the Rent Control Law in favour of tenants and other people who are still being compelled to pay rent advances for two years and more to secure accommodation or business premises.
In an interview with DAILY GUIDE, Mr Greenstreet lamented the rent trauma people are suffering, noting that it was not even mentioned by President Akufo-Addo in his 6th March Independence Day address nor during the State of the Nation Address earlier this year nor anywhere else.
He stated, “If we are celebrating freedom then affordable access to a roof over your head is part of it…we need more policies that immediately and directly affect people’s lives positively…a city or country can never become the cleanest without housing or toilets…”
In Mr Greenstreet’s opinion, “apart from an initial deposit, rent should be monthly and this should be enforced by an empowered rent control…no individual or family can survive and no business can succeed having to pay two years upfront. It’s a killer…”
He bemoaned the fact that “…MP’s themselves collect four years’ rent allowance in advance from parliament so they don’t care about the suffering Ghanaian since they are benefiting from being in breach of the law…”
Industry watchers had previously called for government’s intervention to control landlords/landladies by recommending an amendment to the Ghana Rent Act 220.
Of the many suggestions for transformation was a monthly rent payment to replace the current six months stipulated under the law for residential, which in itself, is widely breached and abused.
With landlords/landladies at the supply end, tenants at the demand end – and demand exceeding supply – house owners have become extremely powerful and dictate the terms of the rental agreement.
Ghana is said to be having a housing deficit of 1.2 million. Additionally, for the first time, those living in urban areas exceed those in rural areas; and the situation in the housing sector has become a major cause for concern.
In the informal rental sector, tales are often told of landlords/landladies who, after spending the huge 1, 2 or 3 years rent advance paid by tenants, go to the extent of inflating shared utility bills in times when they are in financial difficulty – to continue making money from tenants, even outside the tenancy agreement.
Lawyer Greenstreet was of the view that a national housing policy has to ensure that there is affordable housing in every district; and this should even be linked to training of artisans among the youth.
“…the role of the State Housing Company should be strengthened to provide affordable housing across the country, as well as the introduction of tax incentives for high occupancy affordable housing for workers within a comprehensive spatial development policy…” he proposed.