photo: Eddy van Wessel


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Raising the price

My landlord has just let me know that my rent will go up with almost 25 percent. He is one of those people working very hard to make Erbil one of the most expensive cities on earth. It looks like they are trying to outdo the Japanese capital Tokyo, which is known for its high prices.

I tried to argue with him, saying that all over the world a ten percent rise is considered a maximum. And that in my own country that 3 to 5 percent is normal. And I told him I am really shocked by his move.

He was not willing to drop the price. ‘That is the rent everybody is now charging in the compound’, he claimed. Even when I tried to touch the heart that he should have as a medical doctor, he did not budge.

Rents of over 2500 dollars for a simple apartment are now considered normal in Kurdistan’s capital. It looks like some investors are making their own rules and are getting rich fast. They are plunging Kurdistan into a spiral of inflation - as to be able to pay this, people will demand higher wages and fees.

Part of the reason for the increase is that companies are renting in housing compounds. There is a lack of office space in Erbil, so companies move into apartments and villas. They are used to paying more per square meter than individuals, and the house owners greedily make use of that – at the same time pushing the price of all apartments up.

Yet these compounds were built for families, with gardens, sports facilities and playgrounds for the kids. Companies do not need them, and mostly do not use them. Companies need more electricity, as they will have the AC on in all the rooms, and already in my compound we have problems with the capacity of the generators.

I will have to move, and I am sure other individuals and families will also leave the compound. Yet it was built for people like us. And I expect all these offices eventually will move out when real office space is created, leaving a ruined housing complex.

If the government does not make regulations on the maximum increase of the rent of apartments and houses in private use, then this problem will only get bigger and bigger. Because until enough office space is available, in the next new compound the same will happen.

We need to stimulate the building of office space, so companies can get the space they need and will not push civilians out. And perhaps we should even have special regulations to protect affordable housing from turning into offices.

This blog has been published in Kurdish in the daily Kurdistani Nwe

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