House rent increase outstrips inflation

Tenants living in Dhaka continued in 2011 to face above inflation increases in house rents, with slum dwellers paying higher than the rich, according to a report published by the Consumers Association of Bangladesh
In 2011, average rents increased by 16 per cent, according to the report, whilst in the same period, inflation rose by less than 11 per cent, according to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.
The report, however, shows that the 2011 increase was less than the 20 per cent level of increase in house rents in 2010.
In 2009, there was a 15 per cent increase in the cost of rents, in 2008 a 21 per cent increase, in 2007 a 22 per cent increase and in 2006 a 14 per cent increase.
The report shows that different kinds of housing resulted in different levels of rent increases, with the rents of brick-built houses increasing by 13 per cent whilst slum house rent increasing by 18 percent.
Quazi Faruque, the president of the Consumers Association of Bangladesh, said that the report shows the ineffectiveness of the House Rent Control Act 1991.
He said that tenants do not go to rent controllers as many do not know of their existence, and even if they do, it is a complicated processes which can create difficulties with the landlord and they often do not have the documents required to make an application.
As a result, house owners are increasing their house rents, according to their whim.
He said that it was very difficult to even find out how many rent controllers had been appointed in Dhaka.
The CAB president urged the government to control the spiralling house rent by forming a review committee which will renew the level of rent every three years.
He also said that house rent controllers should be appointed area-wise and the government should set the rent and publish it as a gazette.
The House Rent Control Act 1991 is proving ineffective in protecting tenants as very few apply to the ‘controller’ for a determination of what should be the ‘standard rent’ for the premises where they are living, or for an order preventing eviction.
The controller can only intervene to set a ‘standard’ rent or prevent eviction when a tenant or a landlord applies.
Although the city corporation prepares and updates a house rent chart, this only determines how much tax a landlord should pay and does not assist tenants in stopping landlords from increasing rent.
Shilu, a housewife who now lives at Moghbazar, had lived from 2003 to 2010 in a three-bedroom house at Rampura at a rent of Tk 9,000. From 2008, the house owner started increasing the rent by Tk 2,000 every year and, finally forced her to leave the house.
She told New Age that she had then shifted to Moghbazar but that their difficulties did not end there.
Rokeya, a domestic help of Uttara, lives in a slum which costs Tk 2,500 a month.
There is a gas and water supply which they have to share with other tenants, she said.
She said that rent increased by Tk 500 —  a 20 per cent increase — from January 2012.
Zaved, a resident of Mirpur, told New Age that he is living in an apartment where the house rent is Tk 21,000 for a three-bed apartment and the service charge is Tk 3,000.
They are charging money for services without providing any service, he said.
He has no other option other than to stay where he is living as his and his wife’s offices are close to their house,Zaved said.
House owners do not want their tenants to stay for many years and landlords create problems regarding water, electricity and other services to force them to leave, he said.
Rafi, an accountant of a private university, used to spend a half his Tk 6000 salary taka on paying house rent for a single-room family house at Gopibagh.
He said, ‘When we left the house, the owner refused to pay back the deposit, saying that he needed the money to repair the house damaged when we lived there.’
‘There is no one concerned about how fixed-income people survive in this city with soaring house rent’ Kamal said.
Rights group Odhikar’s secretary general Adilur Rahman told New Age that low-income groups were most affected by the increase in house rent and he said that local government bodies needed to be strengthened to implement the act.
He said that most city dwellers are tenants and they pay a major part of their monthly income for their house rent.
House rent transactions should be done through banks, he also suggested.

-With New Age input

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