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Thoughts of some young people in Ghana regarding the housing market.

The housing market is as competitive as ever, population growth and urbanisation are some of the many factors that have influenced the rise in the cost of housing. For instance, in Ghana some baby boomers and generation Xers reveal that during the 90’s they purchased lands in Accra for as low as GHS10, now millennials pay as much as GHS600,000 for a plot of land in the city. That’s if, you can even find a piece of land in the neighbourhood you desire.

Housing Choices for Young Ghanaians

A vast majority of young Ghanaian adults resort to living longer at home with their parents due to the high cost of housing. The ones who migrate from other parts of Ghana to Accra for economic reasons sometimes either have no choice but to live on the streets or become squatters in the homes of friends and family since they cannot afford a room to rent. An example is the number of young women who have and continue to migrate from the Northern Region of Ghana to Greater Accra to work as ‘Kayayei’ (porters) in the various busy markets. These women are usually seen sleeping in front of stalls and shops at night time. Some end up getting abused or raped and often have nowhere to sleep during the rainy season. The young Ghanaians who are able to afford decent and luxurious places to stay usually have well paid jobs or just enough to get by.

Youth Unemployment in Ghana

Many young Ghanaians do not have the disposable income or enough funds to buy homes outright. Subsequently majority of them usually rent accommodation. Despite the current government’s youth employment initiatives, there is still a large number of young Ghanaians who are unemployed and therefore cannot afford necessities including housing. Ghana’s unemployment rate stands at 3.7 % as at 2019 according to the Labour Ministry. The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Ignatius Baffuor Awuah disclosed during a Meet the Press series in 2019 that “People who are currently not working, had made efforts to look for work and did not obtain work summed up to 422,000.” An additional 417,000 Ghanaians have given up looking for employment out of frustration.

Alternatively, there are few young people who can afford to acquire properties whereas most continue to rent. The ones who rent are able to enjoy certain benefits such as, the opportunity to find their desired accommodation and negotiate rent prices that fit their budget. They avoid the hassle that comes with trying to secure mortgages/home loans and also avoid the burden of solely being responsible for the maintenance of the building in which they reside. However, they are faced with the possibility of being at the mercy of some unscrupulous landlords who can evict them without prior notice due to the absence of written and enforced tenancy agreements. There are also a large number of young Ghanaians who do not have enough money to pay for the years advance deposits demanded by some landlords from the onset. The cost of rent in Ghana is highly influenced by the location of the property, proximity of the building to facilities or services such as markets, malls, schools, hospitals, the number and size of rooms available, amenities and more.

Are young Ghanaians able to afford a decent place to rent?

Judging from all these major challenges, one may argue that young men and women in Ghana are most likely unable to readily afford their desired accommodation. We recently decided to talk to a couple of young Ghanaians about their thoughts on the housing market and if they are able to afford a decent place to rent. Read what they had to say below:

David, 31, an Insurance Claims Officer in Accra shared:

My wife and I recently moved into a new apartment but before we could find this apartment for a one (1) year lease, we struggled a lot. You have a situation where a two bedroom apartment in Dansoman is going for a similar price for an apartment in East Legon, but the one in Dansoman is at a lower standard as compared to the one in East Legon. People charge based on the number of rooms not taking into account the area or even the quality or standard of the accommodation in terms of the building materials used, design, mod-cons and so on.

Francis, 27, an Entrepreneur in Kumasi shared:

Finding a decent accommodation in Kumasi is relatively easier compared to Accra. When I moved to Kumasi, it took me a few weeks to find a place to stay. In no time I found a chamber and hall self-contain for GHS200 per month. It is an average room though, not a complex.

On if he was asked to pay for years advance:

Yes, all of those I encountered demanded two (2) years or more rent advance payment.

Nana, 30 Banker in Accra shared:

I am happy with current cost of housing and it was easy for me to find a decent accommodation in Accra.

Sammy, 29, Self Employed in Accra shared:

My biggest issue would be the high and illegal advance payment that people need to pay when renting a property. Personally, I haven't had to rent an accommodation but when my girlfriend did, she had to pay for 2 years in advance which was a lot of money. She paid GHS400 per month and this is not in a very plush area so you can imagine if she wanted such an area.

Kwame, 39 works in Mining

My family and I live in Tema in our own home, but recently I have been living in Takoradi due work. Fortunately, my company handled my accommodation in the Western Region so I did not have to worry about that. Acquiring our own home in Tema was not easy neither was it cheap, I had to sought the services of a real estate company and we also made a few renovations too.

Mansa, 32, Lawyer in Accra shared:

I personally did not encounter any major challenge when I was trying to find an accommodation in Accra when I moved out of my parents’ home. The issues I would highlight will be the exorbitant prices some landlords charge especially for properties located in towns and prime areas. There are also some landlords who charge in dollars.

Esi, 26 works in Aviation in Accra shared:

I am currently living in my parents’ house and do not see myself moving out until marriage. This is because, the kind of home I would want to stay in, would cost me a fortune. I will rather work hard and save some money to buy my own home outright rather than spend lots of Ghana Cedis on an expensive apartment or house.

Most of these young people complained about the advance payment some landlords demand before renting out their property. In Ghana, an advance rent payment is often collected for a period one (1) to three (3) years even though Section 25 (5) of the 1963 Rent Act (Act 220) reveals that, landlords can only charge six months’ rent in advance, with succeeding rental payments due every six months.

In April 2018, it was reported that the government had put out a new rent bill before parliament. The rent bill is aimed at regulating the country’s housing sector. If approved, tenants will be required to pay from one month to a year’s rent in advance instead of the current six-months in the existing rent law. However, per our chat with these young Ghanaians one cannot deny that even the current law, is not being followed.

Another issue that came up was how some landlords charge rent in dollars as opposed to Ghana Cedis. This act is illegal and contributes to the dollarization of the economy.

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