Rent control bill urgently needed

Martin Endjala

Maximillian Katjimune, a member of the Popular Democratic Movement Party and Parliament, has pressed Urban and Rural Development Minister Erastus Uutoni to expedite the finalization of the rent control bill.

He stressed the necessity of presenting it in the August house to address the steep rental prices prevalent across the country.

“I urge the minister, his ministry, and the cabinet to accelerate this process. It should not take this long to introduce the rent control bill to parliament, especially when, I believe, it was either in NDP3 or NDP4, that the Swapo government had indicated intentions to table this bill as far back as 2001. As we approach the end of 2023, stepping into the 2024 election year, we suffer due to unscrupulous landlords nationwide. This bill should have been introduced already,” said Katjimune.

He reiterated these sentiments during a parliamentary session last week, highlighting that many in the Namibian working-class grapple with challenges like unaffordable housing and a booming property rental market dictated by market dynamics. This situation has forced countless hardworking Namibians to become tenants.

Katjimune stressed that skyrocketing housing costs, paired with stagnant wages, have made it challenging for many to keep up with inflation. As a result, the aspiration of homeownership remains out of reach for a significant portion of the population.

“The disparity between income levels and urban land and housing costs continues to grow, emphasizing the pressing need for comprehensive housing policies and initiatives that offer affordable and sustainable housing solutions for all Namibians,” he commented.

Due to the escalating costs of housing, many working-class Namibians find themselves unable to buy property, leaving them with no option but to rent. He further noted that rental prices have soared to exorbitant levels, forcing many into substandard housing options, while opportunistic landlords profit immensely.

The rent control bill aims to activate the rent control board, providing relief to tenants by regulating rental charges and addressing tenant complaints nationwide.

In response, Minister Uutoni mentioned that the rent control bill is presently under examination to address these concerns. “Currently, a team of experts is meticulously reviewing the draft bill. In due time, it will be presented to the appropriate entities before reaching parliament. Our ministry is making significant progress, and I ask the house and nation to show a bit more patience to ensure we get this right,” the Minister concluded.

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