“Housing is a right and not a commodity imported from abroad like food, in order to raise its prices,” a phrase which has been repeated lately by tenants in the capital, Beirut.
Tenants are complaining the high cost of housing, as the leasing cost has become double and triple their salaries starting from 3 million LBP. During the summer season, property owners prefer renting their studios and rooms to foreign tourists rather than locals in order to benefit from fresh dollar payments.
The head of the National Federation of Worker and Employee Trade Unions in Lebanon (FENASOL) Castro Abdallah, told Sawt Beirut International reporter Ghida Jbeili, “There is a lot chaos among rents. Some property owners ask tenants to pay them fresh dollars, and this is impossible.”
“When the rent liberalization law was approved in 1992, we warned that we will reach a crisis and we actually did,” he said. When the contracts were liberated and made for a period of three years, the tenant became carrying his mattress on his back moving from one apartment to another, he said.
Abdallah said that this law has made tenants in the position of extortion by property owners, especially large real estate companies and banks, and because the latter are in a robust situation, they are demanding fresh dollars. “This reality is rejected and condemned, as the minimum wage is still 675,000 LBP, and housing rents should not exceed one-third the minimum wage, which is equivalent to 200,000 LBP,” he said.
Tenants are complaining about the power of real estate brokers who aim to displace them from their homes. Abdallah said: “Brokers are intimidating tenants, and sending them warnings. These brokers are employed by banks and real estate companies and their sole target is earning money.”
On the other hand, property owners claim that they lost 90 percent of the value of their rents amid the economic crisis in Lebanon. They are afraid that the old rent scenario will be repeated, especially amid a total absence for the judiciary role.