Kigali: Urban dwellers decry price hike on house renting and land plots

By Elias Hakizimana.

Desire Izabayo has been in Kigali since 2013 undergoing his university studies in Nyarugenge Campus and has experienced hurdles of expensive accommodation renting, where prices kept rising while his financial status remained tough.

The 25-year-old young man started renting a one bed room house and a sitting room at Rwf20,000 between 2013 and 2014. He claims that the renting price for the same house increased to Rwf 30,000 to Rwf 35,000 in 2015 and 2016 and now at around Rwf40, 000 to Rwf45, 000 depending on the location of the house.

Izabayo uses to rent in Kicukiro District, Gatenga sector where renting is said to be quite affordable but he says life is always not easy as every time, a certain amount is increased to his accommodation.

“As youth who are surviving under part time jobs, life is not easy, we experience hurdles to get to another day and we need support. We cannot get savings to plan for how to build our own houses as it is even expensive to find food and everyday life becomes hard,” Izabayo told The Inspirer.

Eric Nkundiye, 28, is another young man living in Kimisagara sector, Nyarugenge District in Kigali city. He said he used to pay a two-bed room house Rwf 20,000 in 2016, which increased gradually to Rwf 40,000 in 2018 and Rwf 45,000 in 2019.

He said that one of the reasons that make such an increase is high taxes of houses and Kigali city regulations that keep changing.

Nkundiye said that this condition involves some consequences such as delinquency among the youths and others are tempted in other bad intentions when they become homeless.

“When you lack a residence, you do not feel comfortable and sometimes you cannot also easily find food. This is because youths lack jobs. In such cases, some of vulnerable youth who cannot afford to pay accommodations in Kigali become thieves or can be lured into other bad temptations in order to survive in the city,” he said.

“The big problem is unemployment, because when you have a job you cannot fail to pay an accommodation at no matter cost it is. My wish is that the government can intervene by building affordable model villages to graduates who have not got jobs for them to pay later as they did it for the bursary loans. Otherwise the government can give those jobs so that they manage to pay accommodations,” he added.

 “What is worse is that landlords keep increasing prices of accommodations without improving the houses and still my income has not increased,” he stressed.

Jean Marie Vianney Ndikumana, entered Kigali in 2008. H used to pay Rwf 15,000 for a three-bedroom house that has bathroom and a toilet and a kitchen and that price kept rising at Rwf 30,000 in 2014, Rwf 35,000 in 2016 and Rwf 45,000 in 2019.

“We delay to marry because we do not have money. When you have failed to pay an accommodation of Rwf 30,000 you cannot find money to buy a plot or a house, so, it is also hard to marry someone without having a house, the government should think how to help youth get affordable accommodations.” he said.

According to Dieudonne Ntihabose, the agent dealer or ‘commissionaire’ who use to buy and sell houses, plots and other furniture in Kigali city said that the development of the country has evolved with expensive life where a two-bedroom house was Rwf 3,000 in 1996.

The renting price for the same house that has an inside toilet and a bathroom plus a kitchen increased to Rwf 10,000 in 2000, Rwf 30,000 in 2015 and now between Rwf 40,000 and Rwf 45,000 in 2019 depending on where it is.

Prices of accommodations for sale also increased

Ntihabose said that since 1996, a two-bedroom house (3mx6m) could be sold at between Rwf 50,000, Rwf 70,000 and Rwf100,000 according to its location in the city. This increased to between Rwf2,5 to Rwf 3 million in 2015 and Rwf 5 to Rwf 6 million in 2019.

“Last month, I sold a two-bedroom house that has a saloon, inside toilet and bathroom at Rwf 5,5 million. My experience in this business since 1996 is that houses are very expensive. The 4 bed-room house that has a sitting room, inside toilet and bathroom, kitchen could be bought at Rwf 300,000 then, this increased to Rwf 6 million in 2015 to Rwf 10 or 11million in 2019. A person who use to rent an accommodation at the cheapest cost can be homeless around the city today. In 2003, my brother had a two-bedroom house with an inside toilet, bathroom and kitchen that he used to rent at Rwf 25,000. The same house in now being rented at Rwf 150,000 in Kigali city,” he said.

Not only youth, it is hard for people in general to afford prices for houses either by renting or buying since a couple of years ago.

The big apartments

Jacques Mfuranzima, another agent dealer who used to sell big apartments said that prices increase according to the development and locations of houses.

“For example, a 6 bedroom apartment with good verandas and inside kitchen, two sitting rooms, a toilet, a bathroom could be rent at Rwf 500,000 in 2014, this increased gradually to Rwf 800,000 in 2015 and is now at Rwf 1,2,00,000 and Rwf 1,500,000 depending to where is located. To buy it, the same house could be sold at between Rwf50 million and Rwf 60 million in 2015 and this increased to Rwf70 million and Rwf100 million following its location in Kigali city.  

Earlier in August 2019, Government introduced new tax on residential houses which stipulates that People who own extra residential houses will soon start paying a property tax for each extra housing unit as part of new efforts to broaden sources for district revenues.

This is one of the highlights of a new bill on property tax passed by parliament recently.

Cost of land plots

According to reports of real property valuers as reported by The New Times in January 2019, If you are to buy land in Rwanda today, you are likely to spend the most in Kimironko sector compared to other places.

According to the latest land reference prices published last November by the Institute of Real Property Valuers in Rwanda (IRPV), Rwf 169, 676 per square metre was the maximum reference price or the highest price for land parcels sold in Kimironko during the year 2015-2017.

Gisozi comes second at Rwf 152, 550 per square meter, followed by Nyarugenge at Rwf 151, 697 and Rusororo at Rwf 151, 169.

Bonaventure Munyabugingo, a member of the IRPV Board of Directors who participated in compiling the data, told The New Times that: “In Kimironko, it could be especially in the Kibagabaga area. That’s the market behavior. What we published was directly from the records of the Rwanda Land Management and Use Authority (RLMUA). What we have is a reflection of the transaction data.”

“In Gisozi the high prices are mainly in the areas recently developed such as the estate known as kwa Gaposho. In these developed areas there are high standards and designs and infrastructure and that is where people tend to go, which drives prices up. In Kiyovu, there is the area commonly known as Plateau.”

He noted that the same account goes for Rusororo; in the areas surrounding or closer to Intare Conference Arena.

 “In Rusororo, it all started with the development of the Hillside estate.”

Land reference prices are important, Munyabugingo said, largely because they give values the same information.

He said: “It avoids high levels of discrepancies in reports. It is about giving practitioners almost the same level of information. All the people are equipped with professional information which helps avoid conflicts. From the previous reports we could realize that something positive happened; differences and discrepancies and the related conflicts have been going down.”

Natalie Campbell-Rodriquez, a development consultant who owns and operates Forrest Jackson Relocation Services, shed more light on how the idea of land reference prices is important.

She said: “The idea of land reference prices is important especially in societies such as Rwanda where there does not exist a real estate multiple listing service (MLS) through which comparative analysis on property prices can be done.

“What has to be ensured is that the reference prices relate to not just a valuation but also to recent comparable properties sold.”

According to the latest document, current prices were prepared by use of registered transactions of property sales as per Land Administration Information System (LAIS) under the management of RLMUA.

It is noted that the current version of 2018-2019 considered data available for the period ending December 31, 2018 and future versions shall consider data available for the year preceding the year of publication.

The biggest count or number of transactions recorded in the 2015-2017 period, however, were in Masaka (2,102) and Nyamata (2,161) areas where the highest reference prices were Rwf 70, 435 and Rwf 47, 213, respectively.

Other areas of the country with high counts of transactions were Gahanga (1,754) and Ndera (1,520).

Land reference prices are updated on annual basis. The figures provided are always the maximum, the average and the minimum transactions occurred during the period under consideration.

“The land reference prices shall neither relieve values from their professional responsibility nor take away the usual practice of considering all required factors to exercise their profession adequately,” reads a section of the document.

Accordingly, valuers will always be expected to be ready to provide convincing explanations of how they arrived at a specific land price within the limits of the land reference prices for any single report produced and considering all factors of uniqueness of properties in the country.

The new document adds: “An example is that 50 people expropriated from a site where some plots have access to tarmac road while others don’t even have access to a road shall never be expropriated at the same rate of land. Where any strange or case of special consideration occurs, we encourage all users of the land reference prices to consult the Institute for necessary clarifications.”

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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,( is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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