Tenants appeal for protection from exploitative agents and landlords
Some tenants within the Greater Accra region are appealing to authorities to amend and implement existing laws on tenancy to protect citizens from exploitation.
According to them, it was important for the government to regulate the real estate leasing industry that currently exposed tenants to exorbitant rent rates from landlords and illegal and unwarranted charges and commission including airtime charges from agents.
Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Ms. Jessica Kateno, a single mother and a prospective tenant said she was struggling to rent a decent room for herself and her two children.
She revealed that some agents she had engaged in the past had added their margins to the original accommodation rates thereby making rooms expensive.
“They most often increase the rate the house owner gives. For instance, if the room is GHS200, the agents will say it’s GH¢270 or GH¢300,” she said.
She hinted that some also connived with others to defraud unsuspecting victims who out of desperation were willing to make payments for accommodation without due diligence.
Sharing her experience, she said she had chanced on an accommodation online and decided to make an enquiry only to be told upon reaching the site of the accommodation that the place was no longer vacant.
She said she was convinced to look at other rooms which she liked one of them only for the agent to demand that payments needed to be made to the property owner and sign an agreement form to secure the place.
“Mr. Anokye(supposed agent) received a call and told me there is an emergency so he needs to leave, moreover, the landlady has sent her secretary to take the rent from me.
“The so-called secretary came saying I must pay the viewing fee again before viewing the room because he has the keys to the room. I then called and it appeared he is also an agent” she said.
Madam Vera Nuna Addo, another prospective tenant said she had encountered many agents who had given money to show her accommodation facilities she never liked.
She observed that some agents display beautiful rooms online with all the essential amenities, but upon reaching the place, the whole thing becomes a total fiasco.
Narrating her ordeal, she disclosed that she was sent to unconducive places some of which were either waterlocked, had leaking roofs, not spacious enough or lacked basic amenities such a toilet and a bath facility.
“They didn’t care because it was none of their business, after all, they have taken the moving and viewing fee from me” she said.
When she finally got an accommodation, she said: “bathroom is not in good shape, the toilet is full, the landlord promised to resolve that but nothing has been done.”
Mr. Kweku Mensah, a tenant, lamented that it was outrageous for landlords to continuously demanding rent advances of over two years from tenants who were occupants of facilities.
“It is becoming alarming and if the government does not rise up to check this canker or the rent control Does not wake up to the occasion, it will soon be a dog-eat-dog situation in this country” he said.
For convenience and urgency, hiring the services of an agent to acquire an accommodation has become the norm in most urban centres in the country.
In explaining the modus operandi of the so-called agents, Mr. Attah Kote, an agent and a landlord, said, agents moved from house to house in search of vacant rooms.
The vacancies, he said, were then advertised on social media and other platforms such as notice boards and posters at vantage points.
He noted that an amount often referred to as a registration, moving or viewing fee of GHS100 requested and usually taken before moving the client to the location.
Meanwhile, the clients, he indicated, were responsible for transport fare to the location while agents received a 10 per cent commission on the total amount a tenant paid to the landlord if a deal was reached.
“Example, if a room is GH¢200 a month, 2 years would be GH¢4800 10 per cent of GH¢4800 is paid separately to the agent by the tenant”. Mr. Kote said.
Nii Ayii, a landlord at Abeka said, agents usually come to them in search of rooms, and some do bargain the rate and rent period with the homeowners.
He said when the agents bring the prospective tenants, after they make payment, they give something to the agents before the agent takes the agreed 10 per cent commission from the tenant.
He explained that they charged two years advance because they needed the money to get some materials for different projects since prices of goods were increasing every day.