Big housing debts

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By GYNNIE KERO
TENANTS of National Housing Estate Ltd properties in Port Moresby have been told to pay up their rentals which have accumulated to around K4.7 million in the past four years.
The warning came from Roger Otto, the new executive chairman of the company, which is the business arm of the National Housing Corporation.
Otto said tenants, most of them public servants, must pay up their outstanding rentals so that the National Housing Estate Limited (NHEL) could pay the K16 million it owed its two shareholders.
The two shareholders are the Finance Minister (currently James Marape) and the Housing and Urbanisation Minister (currently John Kaupa).
Outgoing acting chief executive of NHEL Madeline Paulisbo, who had served for the past five years, explained that most of the properties could not be maintained because tenants failed to pay their rentals.
Paulisbo said tenants on NHEL properties paid K350 fortnightly for a three-bedroom house, K250 fortnightly for two bedrooms and K150 for self-contained units also referred to as bedsitters.
She said if rentals were paid on time, the NHEL would have been able to maintain the properties and increase the rental charges in due course.
However, there has been no explanation as to why the defaulting tenants cannot be evicted.
Otto said chronic defaulters must pay to reduce the massive debt. He said the debt had accumulated because of “bad management decisions”.
The shareholders want the NHEL to be dissolved by March 31, 2019.
Activities that Otto plans to complete before next March include the audit of accounts, verification of claims against NHEL, improvement in rental collection approaches and freezing property sales.
The NHEL has 54 properties in the National Capital District.
During the last valuation, they were estimated to be worth K60 million.
Otto said: “We have some problem with our tenants. We have difficulties without tenants but we have talked to them to pay up. The decision to liquidate NHEL will be reconsidered if we improve our performance in the next six months.”
NHEL’s corporate secretary Vera Raga said the company was still in operation.

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