Tuesday 11 May 2021
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Housing cheaper? For who?

So, we heard the other day that the Bank of Namibia Governor said that because of the lower inflation rates the cost of housing and accommodation was as a result also lower in this here Windhoek, so we decided to test that theory.


We spoke to a few renters and rentees to get their opinion of what the situation really is on the ground, because as far as we can tell, it is still hard to find a place that one can comfortable afford and which does not gobble up half of your salary.


Location is obviously also a consideration as most people prefer to stay in more affluential areas in the capital city; a desire that hobbles many as they end up making financial decisions that might come back to haunt them in the future.


We spoke with Daniel who is walking around with his head in his hands – metaphorically speaking – and seems to be at  his wits’ end about where and how this will end up.


“First of all,” he says, “I am employed full time. I have a couple of side hustles but those aren’t my main source of income and they are good for like a young groove or food and transport during the month. Basically, my main grind is what should be covering my biggest expenses.


Except that it doesn’t; I guess the economic situation is so bad right now, that they haven’t been able to keep up with salary payments. It’s a mess, man. We get like a quarter or half or a third of our salaries sometimes, but our expenses don’t suddenly shrink to half man, you know?


So, as a result of that situation and I guess some other bad moves I made money wise, I am basically homeless right now. I am bumming with a friend who said I can be at his place until the end of February. Which was a really great gesture from him, and I’m now looking for a place to stay.


There are some potentially good places at reasonable prices, but I am so scared of committing to any of them because I don’t know if my salary will come in, in full; or at all for that matter man. I am just worried and stressed. So yeah, in as much as the process may have reduced, there are other factors that are making it hard for a person to afford to rent, still. Some guys I know are hanging on by a thread with their landlords, some have been evicted and some even have kids whose lives are in limbo because of the financial uncertainty that their parents are facing.


I say all this to highlight the fact that although the economy is conducive to lower rentals, it is also conducive to the lack of funds in the market, which leave an imbalanced situation in the market because while one thing is conducive to change the other thing isn’t. And then really, what is the point of that?”


Charmaine Joubert has a slightly different view, arguing that almost many Namibians are feeling the economic pinch, most who are employed in State or private companies are still receiving their remuneration and are able to keep up with payments.


“The advantage that most tenants have is that they can now negotiate the amount of rent they are willing to pay, since the rentals actually, factually have reduced. Yes, of course, you are going to convince your landlord to suddenly lower the amount he is charging you, but you may to able to negotiate better terms when your current contract is up or when you are going into a new contract, by specifically mentioning what the current economic status is.


It is obviously important that we are aware of what we can and cannot expect and it is also the right of the home-owner to agree or not to terms, when it comes to rental agreements.”


Like everything else in life, there is more than one way to look any situation. What might seem like a silver lining to some, might be ‘same old, same old’ to another.

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