Rentals have soared in Beitbridge after landlords in the country’s busiest border town started charging rentals in South African Rand.
There is an outcry with residents calling for Government to intervene as the cheapest rooms in high density suburbs now cost an average RTGS$200 per month each.
A business guru said Government must intervene and ensure that rent is paid in RTGS since that now represents the local currency.
A survey by The Mirror shows that a room in the high density suburb is going for between R600 and R800 a month and the landlords are not accepting any payment in RTGS$. The tenant therefore has to raise enough RTGS$ to buy the Rand on the black market.
The rate of the RTGS$ to the Rand is 28 to 100 and for R800 a tenant would need to raise RTGS$224. This is half the salary of most civil servants.
In the low density suburbs one room is going for not less that R1 000 and this means that a tenant must fork out a minimum RTGS$280 per room.
Debra Ndlovu, a tenant who is self-employed said she is failing to bear the situation and she is parting ways with a minimum of $250 every month on rentals.
Simbarashe Moyo, a landlord said they are charging in foreign currency because the local currency is not fixed and stable.
Beitbridge Mayor Morgan Ncube said residents are affected by the situation and said he feel for the least paid council employees.
“Its true ndotonzwira tsitsi vashandi vecouncil, the least paid, mari yacho haichakwani rent yacho and as council tichirikure nekuvaka dzimba with the current economic situation. As council hatina bylaw inorambidza varidzi vedzimba to charge in foreign currency,” said Ncube.
Beitbridge Business Association (BBA) Cordinator Clevers Moyo said paying rentals in foreign currency is a big challenge and to make it worse the exchange rate between the RTGS$ and the Rand is not fixed.
“The same applies to commercial business but however there are still a few landlords who accept their rents in RTGS dollar. Apart from the fact that rentals have soared, there is a dilemma in that you don’t know how much you are paying each month because you get your salaries or revenue in RTGS and then you are required to pay your rent in Rand.
“There is however very little that can be done since these are private properties. If you tell the landlords to charge in RTGS they will tell you that Zimbabwe is a multicurrency system and they are at liberty to charge in the currency of their choice. However, there is only the moral ground to approach them because it has now become profiteering.
“It’s strenuous for workers who get their salaries in RTGS to run around shopping for the Rand. To begin with these tenants must queue for cash at the banks which they can then use to buy the Rand. This cash is in short supply and it takes one some weeks to raise enough for the rent,” said Moyo.
Moyo appealed to landlords to consider the hardships faced by tenants and said some are sympathetic as they extend days for the payment of rentals to the 10th day of the month.
“If you look at it closely, you will realize that those who are renting are spending half of what they earn in rentals. According to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) $790 is what a family requires to spend per month and if we factor in rentals, it will be worse. Now that we have our RTGS dollar, Government must make it policy for all local transactions to be paid in local currency including rentals,” he said.