MHC tenants speak out on rental adjustments, arrears

The decision by the High Court in Zomba in vacating an injunction obtained by Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) tenants, though unprotested, will inflict pain on the tenants according to the grouping.

Further, the decision by MHC in asking its tenants to settle its arrears from September when the rental adjustments were supposed to be implemented has not gone down well with the tenants who argue that the matter was not debated in court.

Mphande: Matter was not debated in court

Through a statement, MHC says it will not hesitate to evict all tenants who will breach their Tenancy Agreement by failing to pay the adjusted rentals and the arrears which are supposed to be remitted by December 31st.

In an interview on Thursday, spokesperson for MHC Tenants Association Goodnews Mphande, who said it would still be a challenge for other tenants to raise the adjusted rentals and the arrears, argued that the decision was made in the presence of a single party.

He explained: “The matter was not actually debated in court because it was only one side that was present so the court had to give relief to the party that was present. Honestly, it is not that the tenants are in agreement with percentage that the corporation has now put into place.”

Further, Mphande said the court gave them a chance to be heard, arguing that they were told that when they are ready they can take the issue back to court which he said if they get ready, they then can proceed.

According to Mphande, with the new increments, the lowest tenant, usually living in a bed seater would be paying between the ranges of K14 000 to K19 000 while the highest tenant will now be paying about K163 000.

In an earlier interview, director administration and corporate affairs James Kaphale said the ruling was fair, as it will enable them proceed to implement the rentals without any hurdles.

The tenants on August 30th this year were granted leave to apply for judicial review, and as a consequential interlocutory relief, the court also granted them an order of stay of the decision by MHC to increase rentals with effect from September 1.

The bone of contention between MHC and its tenants since June this year has been the decision by the corporation to raise its house rentals with an average of 48 percent which was then reduced to 43 percent before the tenants sought court intervention.

Initially, before hearing of the judicial review, the case was supposed to go for mediation by Dean of Law at Chancellor College Garton Kamchedzera, that failed to materialize because of the absence of the tenant’s lawyer.

The trend followed the following week when lawyer representing the tenants was not available whereupon Judge Redson Kapindu vacated the injunction and dismissed the application for Judicial review.

Earlier in June, the tenants threatened to hold a nationwide strike and drag the corporation to court when it communicated that it was going to hike rentals by an average of 48 percent, supposedly to be implemented on July 1st.

It was after the threat that the overall increase was reduced to 43 percent which the tenants still protested, forcing MHC to rescind its decision until further notice.

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