Analysis

Slumlords Not Landlords

They exploit desperate people especially students and put them in sub-standard accommodation at unreasonably high rents. Rental housing market needs to be monitored including those landlords not registered
17 Jul 2019 20:42
Slumlords Not Landlords
Many university students are flatting at homes along Rewa Street in Suva on July 15, 2019. Photo: Simione Haravanua

Analysis:

They are slumlords not landlords.

These are property owners who are only interested in exploiting desperate students and other people looking for affordable accommodation in crammed spaces.

The case of the slumlord cashing in on 19 beds in a four-bedroom house is simply criminal and must be exposed and dealt with by the relevant authorities.

As our student numbers at universities continue to rise they add pressure on the housing market near these institutions.

Lack of monitoring

It appears there is a lack of monitoring of all the rental properties because not all of them are registered.

Some are outside the radar of the Real Estate Licensing Board.

The REALB only deals with agencies that are involved in the real estate business, which includes buying, selling and renting of properties.

Those who do not go through real estate agencies to rent their properties need to register with a monitoring organisation to ensure they comply with the law.

There should be proper standard landlord and tenant agreements filed with the monitoring body.

The Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission (FCCC) can assume that role.

In the absence of this monitoring, the risks of abuse and exploitation are high.

The big challenge here is that this practice by slumlords extend to squatter or informal settlements.

Unscrupulous slumlords take advantage of people who are desperate to find a place to shower, eat and sleep in.

Solomon Islands Student Association (SISA) president, Adrian Neve, says his association members have been vicitims of exploitation. He claims they are faced with high rental charges and poor condition of houses they stay in.

It appears that regional students are easy targets because they do not have relatives or people they know here.

The students have raised their complaints with their government in Honiara and the high commissioner in Suva.

He says it’s unresolved and ït’s  been an ongoing issue for many years.

The student population here includes Pacific islanders from the Solomons, Vanuatu and Tonga.

The Suva City Council, the Ministry of Housing and Local Government and the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service (FRCS) should investigate to ensure that offending slumlords are held to account.

They need to check for  landlord and tenant agreements.

It is a likely that they do not exist and things are done verbally without supportive documents.

The question that bothers tenants interviewed by the Fiji Sun is that where will they go if they are booted out in a crowded housing market.
Feedbacknemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 

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