Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

When Addressing Us, Uncle and Auntie is Sufficient

TOP del.icio.us

Securing accommodation in Harare has become one of the most daunting tasks one has to do if you do not own a house. Almost every month, I have a chat with my family and friends on the struggles one has to go through to find a decent place to stay. Worse still with the high rentals that owners are asking for, some even in foreign currency.

In one of the usual discussions, I came across something that I never thought could happen in real life especially when people are staying under one roof. Imagine the way rentals are so high and others being paid in US dollars and someone decides to add to that a very long list of rules!! My sister’s colleague got a place to stay at some house in Southerton, paid his rental and moved in. On day one, he (to his surprise) received some three sheets of hand written paper titled ‘Rules of Accommodation’ which comprise 29 rules to be observed as long as he was staying at the house.

Right at the top of the rules is a cautionary statement, “Please do not tear this paper, read it regularly, losing it is paying a heavy fine. When addressing us, uncle and auntie is sufficient.” What amazed me even more in the introduction of the rules is the fact that the tenant is given one month probation. And that’s when I thought people only talk about probation when discussing issues of employment.

Rule number 6 reads, “Never do laundry in the tub. Use the outside sink. Hang clothes with pegs, never without. Use the line near the mango tree.” The rules also stipulate that the tenant uses tissue paper only and not newspapers. In addition to the rent and observing the rules, the tenant is also expected to bring 375ml floor polish, scouring powder, a pack of toilet paper, a bulb and toilet cleaner every month. In these hard economic conditions, I tell you it is hard to keep up with landlords’ rules.

The highlighted parts of the rules are a pointer to how much burden tenants carry in addition to the exorbitant rentals. It is such a pity to hear of such stories when there is a Rent Board and the Rent Regulation law of 2007 which ought to protect tenants from unfair treatment by landlords in Zimbabwe. Most tenants are scared that the moment they report their landlords to the Rent Board, they will be evicted from the premises and start all over again to look for accommodation.

One comment to “When Addressing Us, Uncle and Auntie is Sufficient”

  1. Comment by enacy mapakame:

    I agree with Moreblessing on the accommodation blues being faced by tenants. It is even worse with students in tertiary institutions who cannot secure accommodation at their institutions.The treatment is just way out of this world, maybe that is what our society is getting to. On top of the high rentals charged per person (with in most cases 3-4 people in one room), a list of commandments and other requirements should be met. For instance, one land lady in Gweru gave accommodation to 7 female students at her house. Each one of them was asked to bring 2 bottlesof harpic, 2 packs tissue rolls, 1 litre floor polish, 500g scouring powder. Is this not robbery. Lord help us.