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Posted On: 6 September 2013 11:24 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:13 pm

Rents of Barwa ‘affordable’ homes to go up

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State-backed real estate giant Barwa is raising rents of its “affordable” housing units in Mesaimeer and Assailiya reportedly by 10 percent, again. The last time it hiked monthly rents of these units (also by 10 percent) was in 2011. The increase comes into force this October and will apply to all rent contracts renewed afterwards, local Arabic dailies reported yesterday. The two residential complexes together comprise 1,984 two- and three-bedroom apartments. Rent hikes contradict Barwa’s professed aim of helping limited-income people by providing them with “affordable” homes in both complexes. The first one, in Mesaimeer, was built some six years ago, at a time rents were peaking at back-breaking levels and the idea was to help people with limited income to move into affordable homes. After the latest hike, monthly rent of a two-bedroom apartment would reach QR3,630 (from QR3,300), while that of a three-bed room will go up to QR4,235 (from QR3,850). Barwa officials were not available for comment yesterday, but the local Arabic dailies attributed the company’s decision on rent hikes to rising maintenance costs. Misuse of facilities by some tenants is also pushing up maintenance costs, one daily said, quoting Barwa sources. When the company announced the first hike in rentals two years ago, the decision had met with resistance from tenants and Barwa was criticised for not keeping its promise to keep rents low. A further hike in just two years is sure to invite more criticism, especially after Barwa’s decision to drastically cut maintenance costs. Tenants have been complaining that Waseef, a Barwa subsidiary that manages the two complexes, carries out only basic maintenance work. “Tenants are made to pay for the replacement of any damaged equipment, even if it is a faulty AC or bathroom fittings installed by the company. There is no justification for a further hike in rents,” said a tenant of the Mesaimeer complex. The situation, according to this tenant, is so pathetic that during a recent fire that gutted an apartment in the Mesaimeer complex, fire alarms were not working. Company officials admitted that alarm systems were under maintenance. A tenant of Assailiya complex claimed that the swimming pool was not yet functional, even after four years of its opening. “The pool was never filled with water. It has now become like a junk yard,” said the tenant. He said Barwa officials always blame tenants for misuse of facilities. “If some tenants are misusing facilities, others should not be punished. Instead of rising rents, Barwa should take measures to curb the misuse.”