The payment of rent, particularly for residential facilities, has over the years, remained a headache for both the average Ghanaian and even those at the top of the social ladder.
For most prospective tenants, issues such as the high cost of rent and lack of proper regulation of the space comes as a concern, compounding the already stressful search for a decent or affordable place to lay their heads.
In recent times however, the concern has not mainly been about the cost of rent, but also the amount people spend engaging the services of rent agents mostly in urban centres.
Some members of the public in an interaction with Citi Business News, shared their unpleasant experiences in their dealings with some rent agents.
Michael Osei Frimpong, a taxi driver said, “I needed to rent a house at Adenta New Legon so I met an agent who made me pay about GH¢300. He kept tossing me till I finally found out he wasn’t a real agent. It really brought a lot of issues. He took me to the house; but there was no landlord. Not knowing it was an abandoned house. He just duped me. And I wasn’t the only one he had done that to. There were about four other people he had taken money from on the same house.”
Esi Hackman, a student also narrated her experience to Citi Business News.
“I have a friend who went through some agents before in trying to rent a house and it was very stressful. He didn’t get what he wanted. The agents kept telling us they had these houses; but they always sent us to different houses.”
In a Citi Business News interaction with some rent agents, it emerged that for the properly regulated ones, one would have to start by filling out a registration form.
An amount known as ‘Moving Fee’, which is usually around GHS50, is then paid to the agent before the search for a place begins.
After the prospective tenant settles on a house, he or she pays a 10% Commission on the total amount charged by the property owner to the Rent Agent.
Peter Mensah, who earns an average of GHS4,000 every month, spoke about some of the factors that influence people’s decision in settling for a particular house.
“People select their houses depending on the price, location and beauty of the house. Some places are sometimes cheap but you wouldn’t get what you want. You might face challenges. There are some areas for instance which are waterlogged but some people still prefer those places because that is what they can afford.”
Kwabena Frimpong, who has been a rent agent for more than eight years, spoke about the challenges they face despite the gains they make.
“The job is a decent job. If the tenants who come to us pay us like they should, then business would be okay. But you will help someone get the house and payment will become an issue. So you’ll have no choice than to stop chasing your money. There are some people who will change their minds after reaching conclusions with them. Others will also go straight to the landlord without you after you have sent them to the house. When you later ask for your percentage, they’ll fight with you. It’s not easy,” he lamented.
Meqasa.com, a real estate portal, serves clients through a virtual platform. The CEO, Kelvin Nyame, believes the lack of regulation of the space is the reason why some agents take undue advantage of prospective tenants.
“Another challenge is the fact that because it’s not regulated, even if you don’t have the property but you have the tenant, you can always fake as a tenant and go behind an agent to see where the property is so that you can take your tenant there later on. So there are a lot of instances where agents lose business because the space is not regulated. Also, because the landlord has not signed any agreement with you so they don’t mind who brings business to them,” he explained.
Mr. Frimpong has thus advised prospective tenants to be vigilant when selecting rent agents to avoid by exploited by criminal elements.
He said, “It all depends on the prospective tenant because you have to make sure that the house you saw online is what you will be sent to. But if you go and it’s a different house, do not give the agent any money. The agent has to be truthful to the business. We are a lot, and no matter what, there will be criminals among us. And that spoils our business and reputation. But if you get a good agent, you won’t regret it.”