Parliament last Friday rejected an urgent motion that requested Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) to stop its rental adjustments.
Member of Parliament for Bobonong, Taolo Lucas had pleaded with Parliament to place a one-year moratorium on the envisaged adjustments of rentals by BHC.
Lucas argued the rental increase deferment would have been a timely response to the economic distress on tenants and citizens in general that were felt from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. BHC rental adjustments will take effect from the next financial year, starting in April. Lucas argued that BHC’s decision to increase rentals at a time when the entire economy has been badly hit is problematic and disruptive as the home is the prime place of compliance with COVID-19 protocols.
“Home is the place of isolation, it is the place of quarantine and it is the place of healing. The rental increase will put an undue financial burden on tenants given the numerous taxes that have been proposed and BHC rental increase will lead to a spiral or spike in the rental market. This will complicate the already difficult situation for many of our people who have lost jobs or are on unpaid leave,” he said.
He stated that BHC rental review is understandable yet it comes at a ‘very difficult period’ imposed by the pandemic. He added the government is broke, its investment account is at its lowest and the deficit is very high.
Lucas added the cost of living adjustment might be difficult to effect and to that extent, personal incomes will remain stagnant and purchasing power eroded. He said rental adjustments could further erode the purchasing power of citizens currently occupying BHC houses.
“BHC rental adjustment will put financial pressure on tenants and a one-year moratorium on rentals will ease the financial burden on this category of citizens. COVID-19 has caused economic havoc to many citizens. A majority of them have lost their jobs and yet others have been placed on indefinite unpaid leave. The adjustment to BHC rentals will add a strain on incomes for these tenants,” he said.
MP for Francistown South, Wynter Mmolotsi shared the same sentiments at the same forum.
He stated that the majority of companies have been affected by COVID-19 and there are no salary adjustments and the rental increases might force them out of their homes.
“This is a difficult year for BHC to be increasing rentals. Some tenants have been renting out BHC houses for decades and have tried to buy those houses and failed because of the moratorium that was placed on those pool houses,” he said.