To Rent or Not To Rent? That is the Dilemma [Archives:1998/36/Business & Economy]

September 7 1998

Tenants Complain
Nearly a decade ago, renting a house was not so expensive in comparison with a typical public employee salary. There were many houses to let and less people. A house rent did not exceed 2000 rials per month. Five years ago, the best house used to cost not more than YR 5,000 or 6,000.
Year after year, things became more and more difficult. A good house today (4 bedrooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom) will cost you at least YR 12,000. Old houses made of mud bricks and wood cost at least YR 6,000 per month, excluding water and electricity. Houses in upper middle-class neighborhoods like the Diplomatic Quarter in Sanaa cost at least YR 20,000 per month.
In more popular areas like Bab Al-Yemen, a house rent is around YR 6,000 to 8,000. But tenants are not only plagued by high rents, but also by many other problems as well. Cutting off water and electricity supplies has become a way by which landlords drive their tenants out.
In order to know more about this problem, Yemen Times interviewed some tenants.
First person:
“Six years ago, I used to pay YR 2,000 per month as a rent for the house I live in on Al-Adl street, excluding water and electricity. It is true that it is an old house, but it is clean and suitable. Three years later, the landlord asked me to pay 1,000 riyals more. I preferred to stay in the same house because it is near to my daughters’ school.
“After 2 years, he asked to increase the rent by a further 1,000 riyals. Again, I agreed to pay YR 4,000 per month for the same reason. When my sister and brother came to live with us, the landlord found it a good excuse to push us to evacuate his property. He asked me this time to pay YR 6,000 a month. I agreed temporarily to pay until I could find another house. He cuts the electricity and water supply and accuses us of wasting water. So, we are trying our best to leave soon.”
Second Person:
“I rented a ground-floor apartment in Baghdad Street. It appeared to be clean but quite small (4 small bedrooms, a bathroom, and a kitchen). I had to pay YR 12,000 a month, excluding water and electricity. The rent contract signed indicated that I must tell him one month in advance if I wanted to leave.
“I discovered later when I was already in the apartment, that the septic tank usually overflowed in front of the building’s entrance. Foul smell was pervasive. I couldn’t open my windows. Because of that I decided to move out without telling him.
“When he knew about it, he asked me to pay the house rent even if I left because he said I violated the contract’s clause indicating that I have to tell him one month before I leave. At the end, I paid the electricity and water bills.”
Third Person:
“I rented a shop to start a internal decorating business. The rent contract indicated that the shop rent will be fixed for one year. After one year, we agreed, I had to pay 10% more. Coming to work one morning, I found my shop padlocked by the landlord.
When I complained, he said that someone else was willing to pay him more for the shop, and that I would have to leave without even taking my work tools, locked inside the shop. The problem grew bigger.
“He refused to give me my tools and equipment back. I went to the police station but to no avail. I filed a law suit. Three years passed without any progress. Now I work in another shop. Imagine that you have your own workshop but you work as an employee for another person!”
Fourth Person:
“I used to live in a third-floor apartment in Al-Adl street, paying YR 2,000 a month. Since the landlord is my wife’s relative, we did not draw up a contract. I lived two years in that apartment.
Later, the landlord asked me to pay YR 1,500 more. I stayed two more years there, and when he again asked me to pay more I decided to move out. When I moved to another house every thing seemed to be O.K. Yet the rent was much more.
“But, even though, the man did not let us go without creating problems. He asked me to re-paint the place. When I refused, he went to the police and made a charge against me. At the end, I was obliged to paint the house.
By Khairiya Al-Shibibi