Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC)tenants in Plot 5332, in the central area of Gaborone have expressed displeasure at their landlord, BHC, for not honouring its promise.
The government housing agency is busy developing existing estates with additional apartments as a way to meet the scarce accommodation in the capital city and providing affordable housing to Batswana. Plot 5332 is situated in Extension 11 where most senior government officials including the State House and embassies are located. The plot secures a block of 12 apartments and has seen BHC adding an additional block of 12 which started construction last April and is now complete.Last week, BHC delegation led by Property Manager, Kesebonye Khimbele arrived at the plot after working hours to address tenants. The construction of the new blocks is now complete, with only utilities left to be connected.
The tenants were hopeful that their landlord had come to inform them that they can now prepare themselves to buy the apartments through BHC’s tenant purchase scheme. The tenants were however told that the apartments are complete, but BHC has already found new tenants. In addition, the new development in the area comes with an additional cost to the existing tenants of the old block. The developments that have now added extra cost to the sitting tenants are the pavement, the guardhouse and the screen wall. These have come with an added P550 to the rental payments of P1500 of the old two bedroomed apartments monthly.
This according to BHC executives, will effect from June 1st 2017. Khimbele told tenants that, “the money we spend on maintenance isn't enough to meet our cost recoveries. We have been making losses as an entity over the years and on top of that, it's been 14 years without rental increase.” He added that, “unfortunately for these new blocks we have found tenants already and that is government. However, knowing that government has the financial muscle, he might want to take both the two blocks including that you are currently occupying. But, as BHC we will always be there for our clients to accommodate them, we will not abandon you.”
The rental for the said apartments he said is estimated to be between P6000-P7000 monthly. He could not disclose which government department will occupy the apartments. Furthermore, plans are underway to refurbish the old block and ma ake it look decent and that upon completion will also come with added costs to the tenants’ rental price. That was not an easy to digest delivery as tenants were filled with disappointments showing unhappiness with the decision that BHC has taken to give government the new apartments.In their response, the tenants complained that they had not been consulted.
“When BHC started this construction in April 2016, you came here to address us about the development and assured us that once the project is complete we would be given first priority in occupying the new apartments with an intent to buy under the sectional tittle deed. We stayed in these old flats with the hope that in the medium to long term we would be able to purchase the apartments. What you are doing is unfair to us as sitting tenants. Do you consider your tenants or you just take decisions,” asked one tenant. Some of the tenants have stayed in the apartments for over 15 years.
The tenants also complained of the company contracted by BHC to clean the compound saying, it is not doing its work adequately, despite the monthly service fees paid to BHC. Other areas that are currently being developed with additional apartments are the Phase 4 suites, Middle Star, Tshimotharo (Ext. 19) and Broadhurst Tsholofelo. Other reports that came from the Middle Star Estate which is also complete, are that the housing parastatal has also found tenants for the complete blocks, which the existing tenants are also not happy about. Botswana Guardian also understands that in a few weeks, the corporation would have demolished some of its ancient structures in Village and part of Extension 11 to put up completely new structures. Khimbele indicated that, “all our estates will be secured, we will engage security companies. “Our new developments will not be built using asbestos material. Asbestos causes lot of ailments. We continue to demolish all the structures that are built of asbestos. The other Extension 11, Village flats amongst others which we already awarded contract for construction, will be open for sale to Batswana. We will put up the adverts once they are complete.”