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CIVIL SERVANTS FACE MASS EVICTION BY LANDLORDS

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MBABANE – It seems government has sneezed and landlords have caught the cold.

Government has enforced what some regard as a freeze on rental rates on houses it leases from private owners for civil servants. This has prompted some to call on government to either table improved offers or find alternative houses for civil servants. The ‘freeze’ was done through the Ministry of Public Service which is responsible for the housing of civil servants among other things. A landlord, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said government declined applications from landlords to increase rent for the past two years.  The source said they signed contracts with government with the hope that the decision would be reviewed but that has not been the case. The source said this during an interview yesterday.

Owners

Government leases houses from private owners which are then occupied by civil servants. The landlords have the responsibility of ensuring that houses are maintained and remain descent. However, the source stated that this came at a cost for them as they had to maintain the houses regularly. He said at times they foot maintenance bills of at least E6 000 while receiving monthly payments lower than that from government. The source lamented that this then translated to them not making profit; something which is the primary objective of every business. He stated that most of the faults in the houses were due to negligence on the part of the tenants. He said they were forced to continue running at a loss for the sake of keeping their houses in good condition. He added that other landlords were contemplating stopping maintaining the houses while others wanted to withdraw their services. He explained that they could be making more money renting out their houses through estate agents or to interested individuals at commercial rates determined by them (landlords).

Commercial

Government pays rent to landlords at varying commercial rates depending on house sizes among other things. Senators have in the past raised concern that the ministry charged civil servants rental fees as low as E600 for two bedroom houses while it paid landlords at commercial rates. Senators were concerned that government would be milked dry by this approach and asked the ministry to do something about it.

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