Tenants groan, as shylock landlords, estate agents ‘run amok’

By Isatou Chaw

June 28, 2021

Tenants in The Gambia especially those living within the Greater Banjul Area continue to groan under the yoke of escalating house rental fees, with many threatened with eviction.

In recent times, securing accommodation has become very difficult for many people in the Kanifing Municipality and some parts of the West Coast Region, with landlords and rent collectors, the so-called estate agents, charging high rent fees and imposing harsh conditions on helpless tenants.

It would be recalled that during the Second Session of the National Assembly, the Minister of Information and Communication infrastructure, Ebrima Sillah, had informed lawmakers that government is currently working towards the issue of [skyrocketing] house rental fees in the country, while stressing the need to engage landlords and government officials. 

“The issue of rent is a social and economic challenge and as such we believe there has to be a broad consultation with key government ministries, such as the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Lands and Local Governments. The Minister of Justice will consult these key stakeholders and come up with a recommendation to cabinet that will potentially lead to the preparation of a control bill,” Sillah had promised.

The promise is yet to be fulfilled. As a result, affordable housing has become a luxury for many Gambians as some landlords now charge up to D4000.00 per month for a two-bedroom flat. 

Haddy Jatou Bah, a tenant who has been renting for some years now, said her landlord is in the habit of increasing the rent every now and then. She said: “My husband and I have been renting for some years now, the landlord keeps increasing rent fees, and if one fails to pay by the end of month it is either you are given a quit notice or your assets will be seized by the landlord. I am calling on the government to help us regulate the cost of rent for the poor, or even help us with half payment.”

According to Haddy, the [estate] agents who connected them with the landlord usually charge about D3000, and afterwards, the landlord will ask for a six-month advance payment.

“If the price of rent is D3,000.00, then the advance payment will likely be D12,000.00,” she added.

Modou Camara, who lives in Wellingara, told this medium that he lives with his family in a very inconvenient apartment. He described the so-called estate agents as heartless people with no sympathy for the poor.

 “My landlord stays in Europe but the agent that collects the rent every month increased the rent without informing us in advance or even renovating the house. He has threatened that if we don’t pay the new amount then we have to move out,” Camara said, lamenting that things are getting extremely difficult for him, as he is in the low income bracket.

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