Poor tenants forced to stay in outskirts due to hiked rental prices

22Oct 2021
Francis Kajubi
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Poor tenants forced to stay in outskirts due to hiked rental prices

IN recent days, Dar es Salaam has seen an increase in high rise apartment buildings located in the central business district and posh areas close to the CBD which, unfortunately remain largely unoccupied.

The majority of the city’s low and middle income residents cannot afford renting the expensive apartments which lease in US dollars per square metre hence choose to stay in the suburbs, dozens of kilometres away from the CBD.

 “Only if I am sick do I wake up past 5am in the morning which is my routine wake up time,” said Shadya Salum who is a fish vendor currently staying at Mbagala Rangitatu in the outskirts of the city although her working station is Mzizima Fish market in the CBD.

“I am not strong enough to use muscles and force my way against to commuter buses against strong men which is normally the case at rush hours,” the 20 year old said. Salum’s routine is all too common among many low and middle income families in Dar es Salaam. According to her, she spends 2,000/- a day to cover return fare between Mbagala and the Mzizima market, a distance of 15.5 kilometers which is covered in 38 minutes during off peak hours.

Shadya has been selling fish to Mbagala residents for a year and a half now after relocating to the city from Mtwara region, her hometown, in search of better life. She is a single mother with one son left behind in the care of her mother in Mtwara. A primary school drop-out due to pregnancy, she rents at 30,000/- a month.

Because of hiked renting rates of houses in the CBD and adjacent areas such as Kurasini, Chang’ombe, Magomeni, Upanga and others, most low income and middle income families stay in the shilling rented cheap residential units in slums of Tegeta, Kimara and Gongo la Mboto.

In late August, The Guardian published a story on concerns raised by real estate developers and managers who are blaming decision to relocate the central government’s headquarters to Dodoma, the country’s central region, since earlier 2017.

The real estate managers said despite cutting down rental and purchasing prices, apartments remain empty without tenants nor outright buyers because elite civil servants and business people have relocated to Dodoma city.

Along new Bagamoyo road where most of the properties are 50 percent vacant, a neighbourhood that is booming with new high rise residential and commercial buildings, rental prices stand at an average of U$12 per square meter compared to the CBD’s U$14 per square meter. Apartments are sold at an average of U$130,000 compared to the city center’s average of U$280,000, prices that remain off-limits for many people.

In the posh neighbourhoods of Masaki, Oyster-bay and Upanga, rental prices for apartments with three to four bedrooms ranges between U$4,500 and U$6,000 month while purchasing prices hover around U$500,000 and 1,500,000. The real estate managers however argue that the prices are lower compared to U$8,000 per month and U$2million for renting and buying respectively.

One of the tenants at Masaki who introduced himself by a single name Stanley who resides at JKM Apartments, said that he has no problem with the prices. Declining to mention how much he pays per month Stanley said that properties in Dar es Salaam are affordable. “I have no problem with the rental prices, in fact, Dar es Salaam properties are rented at affordable prices compared to other cities that I have been to such as Lagos and Johannesburg,” he said.

Jacqueline Samson, Property manager, Skyline Property Limited said that the 20 floors skyscraper along new Bagamoyo road is rented at U$10 per square meter excluding value added tax but U$12 with VAT. She said that the minimum lettable space is 50 square meters. The buildings have two wings covering 800 square meters.

“The rental price is negotiable and can even be lower depending on how much space the customer needs. We charge U$50 a month for parking one car while water bills are inclusive to the rental charges except that every tenant owns his own electricity meter. Letting period starts with a minimum of three months,” Samson said.

Clarah Herman, Sales Supervisor at Victoria Noble Center along new Bagamoyo road, with 15 floors said the renting price is U$10 per square meter while minimum purchasing price is U$168,000 for a three bedroom apartment.

“Most people ask, why choose the Noble Center? The answer is simple, it has office spaces in the front and residential apartments in the back. Its spacious offices start with 53 square meters,” Herman argued.

When asked what initiatives the government is taking to stimulate the real estate business in Dar es Salaam, Deputy Minister of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Developments, Dr Angelina Mabula said that the role of the government is just creating a conducive environment for doing business.

“The government is implementing mega projects in Dar es Salaam such as construction of new roads, expansion of the port and the rapid transit network to connect the city just to attract new investments,” Dr Mabula said adding that government officials are going around the world to lobby investors to come and do business in the country. She said the government has also directed municipalities and district councils to allocate land for industrial parks so that investors face no bureaucracy.

Commenting on the subject, Tanzania Private Sector Foundation’s Executive Director, Francis Nanai said that business was generally disturbed by the central government’s relocation to Dodoma and not only the real estate sector. Nanai said TPSF has been working closely with the government in lobbying investors to come and stimulate Dar es Salaam’s economy.

“But as TPSF and the government are taking such joint initiatives, property managers should think of further cutting down rental and purchasing prices. The properties are being marketed at high prices that ordinary people can’t afford,” he advised.

Thabit Massa, Dar es Salaam Principal Trade Officer backed Nanai’s view by blaming property investors for demanding prohibitive prices. “You may find that 80 percent of properties in Dar es Salaam are leased and sold in US dollars. In developed countries, skyscrapers in city centers are leased at low prices so low income earners find homes to live in contrary to what the situation is in most African cities where worthy people prefer to live in such blocks leaving the poor to opt for residential units in the outskirts,” said Massa.