FAMILIES have to pay between US$10 and US$30 in extra rentals for the month of May following increases in rentals in most parts of the country, according to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ).
The consumer watchdog said its monthly basket for May rose to US$437,62 from the previous month figure of US$427,11 largely due to increases in rentals.
Rentals constitute about 40% of the CCZ monthly basket.
â€œThe increases were a result of rises in rentals and municipal utilities,â€ said the CCZ in a statement.
â€œOf major concern was the element of rentals, as there seems to be no agreed standard on how rental space is charged. Landlords seem to be setting rentals willy-nilly and this is impacting rather negatively on tenants,â€ the consumer watchdog said.
However, surveys by estate agents and financial institutions during the first quarter of the year said rentals had declined by an average 15%, while prices of residential properties had gone down by an average of 30%.
The chairman of the Estate Agents Council of Zimbabwe, Oswald Nyakunika maintained that Zimbabweâ€™s prices were the lowest in the region.
â€œOur rentals at US$2 per square metre to US$5 per square metre are the lowest in the region,â€ he said.
Analysts said the number of properties offered for sale had improved significantly from the first quarter whilst able buyers have continued to dwindle in this predominantly buyers market.
They said low activity had also been exacerbated by sellers and estate agents who continued to quote high prices from the last quarter of 2008. Households are already burdened by high costs as domestic bills that are almost twice what the region was offering.
As the countryâ€™s economic performance begins to improve, the property market is still struggling to find its feet, say analysts.
It has continued to experience a slump in activity with rates in rentals and property prices far beyond the reach of many.
Apart from increased in rentals, the CCZ
said there was a reduction in the cost of the food
basket from US$111,31 in April to US$111,06 last month.
Food constitutes 25,41% of the family basket, 10% for transport, soap and detergents make up 2,8%, while rent, water, health, education, clothing and footwear constitute the remainder.
The South African basket ranges at US$82. Botswanaâ€™s monthly basket is at US$95 while that of Mozambique is US$113,02.
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This reduction was attributed to competition on the market, zero duty on basic food which has allwed more people to buy for themselves directly from foreign markets.
There is real increase in the cost of the basket on transport, rent, water and electricity, health, education, clothing and footwear from US$304 to US$314, reflecting an increase of 3 percent.
Prices of most basic commodities in shops are still beyond the reach of many consumers as civil servants only receive an allowance of US$100.
The CCZ urges the Ministry of Finance to urgently consider the use of the local currency that is currently in circulation, as this will benefit consumers who have Zimbabwe dollars lying idle in their accounts.