Residential houses used for business purposes in the City of Kigali face closure due to landlords’ failure to comply with a directive to modify them.
In July, Kigali City Council, ministries of Infrastructure and Trade and Industry and other stakeholders, set a September 30 deadline for owners of residential facilities used for commercial purposes in the city, to submit project proposals on how they will modify their properties or have them closed down.
The organic law determining the use and management of land in Rwanda, and the lease contracts issued to land owners stipulate that it is prohibited to change use of land or facilities built on land, without approval from relevant authorities.
Out of 270 residential houses used for commercial purposes, only owners of 95 houses have, so far, complied with the directive that requires the submission of architectural designs showing the proposed adjustments.
Bruno Rangira, the Director of Communication and Media in the city, said; “all those businesses that don’t comply with the requirements for business premises operating in the city will be requested to relocate to appropriate premises.”
During the July meeting, chaired by Albert Nsengiyumva, the Minister of Infrastructure, it was agreed that all residential structures, without necessary requirements, but with enough space for extension, will be given one year, effective October, to implement their architectural designs approved by the construction centre.
However, residential houses which are in a sorry state and pose a threat to security and health of their occupants or clients and can not carry out any necessary refurbishment while in use, face immediate closure.
Owners of residential houses which lack space for expansion were, however, given an opportunity to submit their project proposals to the construction centre, but also given one year to relocate if their proposals do not meet the required standards.
Most of those affected had converted residential houses into restaurants, hotels, bars, offices and pharmacies without putting into place the necessary facilities like parking, sufficient washrooms and other essential infrastructure.
“On September 30, the city’s window for all business operating in residential houses to request for change of usage came to an end,” said Rangira.
The city is now going to work with city districts to examine the cases of those who sent their request of change of usage.
“The City of Kigali is working closely with the private sector in implementing this directive,” Rangira noted.