Rent revolt boiling in K’la arcades as landlords turn debt burden to tenants

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Rent revolt boiling in all arcades in Kampala
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Revolt is building silently in the magnificent but poorly constructed Kampala malls as the highly indebted Kampala Landlords turn the burden onto their tenants who are equally doing bad in business.

“Kampala will soon go up in flames as tenants battle their Landlords ” one shop attendant at Premier centre belonging to Bosco Muwonge told the SpearTeam. As you read this, this very morning traders at Premier Complex closed shop and on strike over hiked rent.

Just last week Bosco Muwonge arbitrarily increased rent at his Premier Centre building from three million to three million five hundred shillings.

The tenants who spoke to the SpearTeam said that whenever they sought for audience with their Landlord he  dodged them.

The mall with over 100 shops has about three hundred traders as many share shops, with one shop accommodating three traders majority of whom are women.

At Premier Centre, traders are particularly bitter that Mr. Bosco Muwonge shifted his burdens to them and whenever they complain about high rent he shouts back at them that he also has big loans with the banks.

” We are equally indebted to banks, Bosco has been drawing big loans to finance other project that haven’t taken off, so he is squeezing us hard to pay for him, his bank loans”, Traders told us.

Traders are also complaining that Bosco refused to properly receipt the money they give him in rent. The receipts that were shown to SpearTeam only read that so and so has paid rent for the month of February, March without the amount or year.

Traders say this affects their bookkeeping and clearance with Uganda revenue authority as it assists Bosco to evade paying URA taxes.

At Nabukeera Plaza, the famous Omugagga Young only gives his tenants Power from 8:00am to midday for only two bulbs, he says that is his way of saving on expenditures.

At Capital Centre Landlord Ssebalamu has told his tenants to buy themselves off by paying $100,000 (360 millions) each for a sub-lease of twenty years. Ssebalamu is said to have identified a Bank to lend the poor traders the said amount.

Asked why they don’t just walk out of these Malls and get places with better terms, traders say that all Kampala Landlords behave in a similar manner and there is need for Government intervention to regulate this business.

Bagagga kwagalana a group of the rich Kampala landlords, who are said to be not actual arcade owners but frontliners for owners in government are said to have conspired and took leadership of KACITA—an association meant for traders, where they take their complaints and any disagreement with the landlord. Unfortunately their complainants whenever raised fall back to the very oppressive landlords managing KACITA.

This  practically means traders  are left with no single way out amidst financial exploitation. Traders say they have written many petitions to parliament on different issues but these bosses just sit on them.

The Rent Restriction Act 1949 mandates Government through District Commissioners, to appoint a rent board in each , District, Municipality or Town with powers to regulate rent fees among other things. And where a District fails on this obligation the Minister of Trade is supposed to come in and settle any matter arising out of this failure. This law however is not being implemented despite its existence.

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1 COMMENT

  1. This rent hike business is ridiculous for so many reasons. Likewise, this is the result of an environment infested with lawlessness which is tacitly encouraged if not caused by the government. One does not need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that empowering a government minister especially one working for the Museveni Regime or dictatorship is not a solution because, government ministers answer to their government and not the people. One would therefore be inclined to resort to the legislators who are presumed to represent the interests of their constituents but that also is ridiculous given the environment that perpetuates corruption to the extent that it has become institutionalized where nothing works until one pays.

    The only solution to this mess is regime change. Nothing in Uganda is going to work for the ordinary person until such time as the environment has been sanitized and the bad elements removed from power. There must rules and regulations that prohibit the arbitrary increase of rents especially during the lease term. There must be a system that governs when and how rent is adjusted, taking inflation and cost of living into consideration.

    Finally, the refusal to properly and accurately receipt rents by a landlord should be resisted while resorting to and employing other methods including but not limited to electronic documentation. Record on your smart phone the transaction making sure your smart phone is set up to accurately record the payment transaction stamping the recording with date, month and time and including the faces of all witnesses then present. In fact, some phones will also register the google location of the recording. When done and stored accurately this would facilitate the documentation of a tenant’s payments no landlord will be able to credibly dispute.

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