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PROPERTY – Estate agents deny forex claims

Eric Chiriga

THE Real Estate Institute of Zimbabwe (REIZ) and estate agencies have denied allegations that they prefer foreign tenants whom they charge rent in hard currency compared to locals who pay in Zim

babwe dollars.

Instead, the association accused private individuals and bogus estate agents of asking for rentals in hard currency.

“Our market is made up of properties that are managed by bogus agents and individuals,” Abraham Sadomba, the president of REIZ and managing director of CB Richard Ellis, said.

He said this at a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs, Industry and International Trade meeting held this week.

Phillip Chiyangwa, the Member of Parliament for Chinhoyi, chaired the meeting.

Sadomba said the allegations against them were made by private property owners.

“The institute certainly does not agree with the activities being carried out by bogus estate agents and individuals and we don’t have control over them,” he said.

“We made it clear to them that they should do it ethically, which should be within the confines of the law.”

According to exchange control regulations, it is in an offence for people or institutions to charge or pay for services or property in hard currency in Zimbabwe.

Also attending the hearing was Amos Mazarire, a senior partner at Knight Frank who said there was a misconception worldwide that estate agents want to lease their properties to foreigners so that they earn foreign currency.

He said Zimbabwe had one of the cheapest rentals.

Mazarire said legislation put in place to protect tenants was a disincentive to investment in property.

“The legislation is actually discouraging investment in flats. How can an individual invest his $1 billion in a flat where he will be told how much rent to charge?” he said.

Sadomba said the legislation was affecting the growth of the property industry.

“If this residential rent control legislation is removed we would have more investors and therefore more houses to meet the demand and consequently rents will decrease.”

Of late, there has been a tug of war between landlords and tenants over frequent rent increases.

Due to hyperinflation, landlords with properties at the top end of the market have been quoting rents in hard currency.

However this was deemed illegal by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

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