New housing law in offing

As the affordable housing shortages in Rwanda continue to be a big challenge, a new law that seeks to address housing problems is going to be out soon, according an official of Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA).
Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA) is working on a new law that will address the problem of housing shortages that remain a big challenge. Sunday Times / File.
Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA) is working on a new law that will address the problem of housing shortages that remain a big challenge. Sunday Times / File.

As the affordable housing shortages in Rwanda continue to be a big challenge, a new law that seeks to address housing problems is going to be out soon, according an official of Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA).

The government through RHA is preparing a revised law that will see affordable housing for middle and low income earners.

About 50% of Kigali residents live in overcrowded, low-quality houses, according to the latest report detailing the city’s housing needs and opportunities for investors in the sector.

The report, released by the Kigali City Authority, last year shows that there is a shortage of over 400,000 units, meaning many city occupants live in unplanned and poor quality houses.

Speaking to Sunday Times, Esther Mutamba, the Director General of RHA said that, her institution is still working on concept papers, designs of house.

She said: “basically all the preparations are still at a conceptual stage”.

“The revised law is still being worked on; we have forwarded it to the Ministry of Infrastructure. We are going to discuss the challenges of housing shortages in Rwanda with all the relevant stakeholders.”

The existing law does not cover the modalities of setting up houses for low and middle income earners.

In Kigali it’s challenging to know the average rent, cost of houses as prices vary depending on areas where those houses are located.

According to Rwanda Development Bank (BRD), the institution is ready to play a significant role in the country’s housing sector.

BRD has financed various developers such Real Estate Development in Kanombe (Kicukiro Distict) that cuts across low cost, middle and high income earners.

Charles Haba, the president of Rwanda Real Estate Association, said that building affordable houses is not entirely the responsibility of the developers.

“Real estate developers are traders, they build houses where they will make money, and as long as they are not struggling to sell those houses, however expensive they might be, then they will continue building high end houses.

It’s purely a business decision,” he added.

Haba explained that Housing shortages in Rwanda are a result of high cost of land, building materials and inadequate finances.

“If there can be ways in which government can address some of those challenges at the moment, especially from an angle of affordability and affordable mortgage finances, there wouldn’t be any problem of housing shortages.”

The City of Kigali report further revealed that there is a general population growth in the city putting pressure on the few resources and facilities currently estimated at 1,059,000 people.

Developers find investing in high-end residential houses more attractive as the government waived taxes on some of the most expensive construction materials; including doors, windows and tiles.

Efforts to reach Rwanda Social Security Board, an institution that has shown great interest in the construction of affordable houses in Kigali were futile as they could not respond to our emails and calls by press time.

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