POST TIME: 17 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Affordable housing in Dhaka ‘a daydream’
Plight of tenants in overcrowded capital city a major concern

Affordable housing in Dhaka ‘a daydream’

With the rising urban population, Dhaka lacks adequate resources as well as policy and institutional support to provide good and decent housing to city dwellers, say experts.People also find it extremely difficult to buy flats as the price of land has become exorbitant in the capital.

According to experts, the government is providing illegal licence to some people by allotting plots, and they become wealthier overnight by selling their flats for high prices.

The experts say that the government must stop the allotment of plots. This scenario would not improve if the rule of law is not enforced, they added.

Besides, tenants are randomly harassed by landlords as they keep raising house rents without any prior notice every year, flouting the existing laws in this regard.

According to a study of the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), 68 per cent of city dwellers live in rented properties, while 32 per cent live in their own houses in Dhaka. The average size of owner-occupied residences is 1,261 square feet, while it is 950 square feet for rented accommodations, it says.

As many as 79,900 people live in per square km area under Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) and Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) areas, while 30,900 live in India's Mumbai, 4,300 in Japan's Tokyo, 6,000 in China's Shanghai and 11,500 people in India's Delhi, says the study.

The average area per person in Dhaka is 12.5 square metre, while the average area per person is 32.3 square metre in Mumbai, 230.2 square metre in Tokyo, 167.6 square metre in Shanghai and 87.4 square metre in Delhi, it adds.

More than 55 per cent of tenants live in houses smaller than 1,000 square feet, the study says, adding that the inability to afford bigger accommodations is a major reason for buyers and renters opting for smaller housings.

According to the study, 82 per cent tenants have exceeded the standard affordable limit to the housing cost. Every tenant has to pay Tk 11,577, on average, as monthly rent for a 950-sq feet house in Dhaka, while 80 per cent tenants cannot build their own houses due to insufficient savings.  

Some tenants, however, said that a 950-sft flat cannot be hired in less than Tk 15,000 in any of the capital city.

The survey was conducted in Old Dhaka, Rampura, Mirpur and Badda areas last year.

The government must strengthen the enforcement of existing rules and policies as the first step to improve housing conditions in the capital city as well as across the country.

“The government first has to stop allocating plots to individuals for the sake of greater interest of the people. City dwellers would rent their houses at a reasonable rate if the government constructs housing complex instead of allocating plots,” Mobassher Hossain, an architect, told The Independent yesterday.

He said that some persons are becoming wealthier overnight by selling their flats for constructing five- to 10-storeyed buildings on a five katha plot allocated by the government. “The government is giving illegal licence to land owners by allocating plots. Such allocations must be stopped,” he added.

Construction cost in Dhaka is low compared to the situation outside the capital, Mobassher Hossain said, adding that there is no reason why a 1000-sq feet flat will be priced more than Tk 20 to Tk 30 lakh in Dhaka.

The West Bengal government in India has fixed per sq feet price at Tk 3,500 in Salt Lake area, but there is no such rule or rate in Dhaka, he added.

Banks are providing loans on the basis of age, Hossain said, adding, “If the banks increase the period of instalment, people could buy flats at affordable prices.”

The government can reduce the land price by readjusting the pattern of agreement between realtors and land owners as well as by rationalising tax and registration fees, he observed.

When contacted, Siddiqur Rahman, legal adviser (additional secretary) of the housing and public works ministry, said the tenant can move the court in case of harassment by the landlord.

“There are laws to protect tenants. If any landlord flouts the law or violates the tenant’s right regarding house rent, he or she must be brought under the rule of law,” he said in reply to a query.