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MENAFN - Arab News - 18/12/2012

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(MENAFN - Arab News) The soaring residential rental rates are adding to the woes of both citizens and expatriates alike. Many tenants expressed their frustration with their landlords who are increasing rental prices arbitrarily.

Rent hikes are causing a major problem for many people as they find themselves increasingly unable to afford accommodation expenses. A large number of tenants said they were not able to balance their home budgets because of the tactics adopted by their landlords.

Mohammed Wassim, an executive said: "My landlord has hiked my rent by SR 2,000 a year. I am currently paying SR 25,000 for a two bedroom flat."
This issue has been raised in the media several times, however it has not provoked a reaction from landlords. "Since it was too expensive to rent a single flat, we share a two bedroom apartment with two other families" said Susan Dufur, a Filipino nurse. She added that she had to take this step, because she needs to remit her savings to her family back home.

One reason given for the rise in residential rental prices is the increasing amount of foreign investments coming into the Kingdom, especially with the country's boom in real estate. While such investments are good for the economy, landlords are taking undue advantage of the rising property prices by increasing rent periodically.

Families with low incomes are finding it difficult to pay rent. "These days, a four or five bedroom apartment is being leased at SR 32,000 plus. "I had to change my apartment because the landlord increased the price by SR 5,000," said Siraj A., a resident of Jeddah's northern suburbs.

The majority of expatriates who cannot afford the rising price of rent end up staying in buildings with poor accommodation.

Saeed Khan, a pharmacist and father of five children, said the all-round price increase was frustrating. "Food prices and school fees are increasing. And now high rents. We are starting to feel the pinch. Not until long ago, we used to boast that Saudi Arabia is the least expensive country n the world."

To cope with the rising prices, Saeed said his wife has also started working.
Sameul Joseph, a private sector employee who lives with his wife and four children, is also facing a difficult time in his life due to rent hikes. Their house rent increased from SR 18,000 to SR 24,000 in the last six months, which forced him to leave the house and live with his friend's family in their apartment. He said: "Since rents are increasing, companies have to increase salaries as well. But that is not happening. No one can afford the expensive houses, especially people with low incomes."

This problem is also affecting young people who are about to get married. Moath Swan, a young Jordanian engineer working with Binladen Group, plans to get married in January, and is among many facing accommodation difficulties.

"Everyone hopes to live in a stately apartment. But it has become a major ordeal finding a suitable house. All the two-bedroom apartments are above my budget."

These are many cases where landlords have adopted the policy of 'pay or pack-up.' Farhana, a teacher, said; "The landlord asked my husband for an increase of SR 7,000 in the next two months, either we pay or we will have to leave the house. We can't pay that much, but to avoid the hassle of moving, my husband agreed to pay him," she added.

Many tenants are already feeling the squeeze; it's a bitter blow.
Mizan Ahmed, an executive manager at a construction company, said "The government should step in and make Saudi Arabia an affordable place for its citizens and expatriates again."


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