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Agency for Government Houses (AGH) is carrying out a study that will inform the revision of rental charges. The revision project will affect prices on government owned rental properties being used by businesses, such as shops, hotels, warehouses, and cafes.
The agency, which leases 5,000 houses in Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa for businesses, has not made significant revisions to rental prices since 1991, the year in which the Derge regime was overthrown. The rent revision study, which is expected to be finalized this year, could bring about significant adjustments to rental prices.
Compared to private-owned business properties, rental property the agency possesses, are very cheap. Tenants usually complain that the properties in which they conduct business are often ill designed and in dire need of renovation.
Adiss Ejegu, AGH Communication Head, told Capital the revised charges will be presented to the concerned ministry for feedback before implementation.
According to Adissu, rent is expected to rise, but it is not yet certain by exactly how much. “For several years now, no revisions were made to rental prices, but now, it is time to do so. All property rented to businesses will not be categorized as the same. They’ll be classified based on their size and the services they are used for.”
Sources in the agency told Capital that many tenants who already own private buildings still hold on to government owned property, with the agency doing very little to stop the practice. “There are many unfair practices happening on government owned rental property. Individuals who have buildings, individuals who have houses still reside and do business in the agency’s houses with cheap rent. Some of these individuals occupy the property under the guise of business without providing services.”
“Some large compounds in key areas are rented out to businesses for no more than a 500 birr a month but the tenants make more than 100,000 birr a month. That a significant loss of the government’s revenue,” sources added.
The agency is responsible for the allocation of residential houses for high level civil servants, government officials, and members of parliament; recently, however, it is short of vacant property to let. More than 600 government officials are registered on the waiting list to get housing allocated by the agency.
In addition to distorted pricing on the properties, the fact that no new residential buildings were constructed after 1991 to keep up with growing demand, is heavily affecting availability.
“We have not been building houses, and so our option right now is to remove illegal residents in some of our property and give it to the officials,”
The Government Houses Agency established in 1975, administers more than 12,000 residential houses in Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa.