NHC rental issue a concern

Editorial

ONE would have thought that a landlord or property owner whose tenant has been failing to pay rent over a period of time will immediately institute the eviction process.
That would have been the most sensible and just thing to do. But this does not seem to be the case with the National Housing Corporation. Its business arm, the National Housing Estate Limited, revealed this week that it is owed K4.7 million by tenants who have not been paying rent over the past four years. Yes. Four years.
The question that immediately crops up is why these tenants, who are mostly public servants, have not been evicted. Four years is a very long time to be putting up with such irresponsible and illegal behaviour not to pay for the homes they are renting.
What is even more shocking is the rent they are paying. It is much less than what is being charged in the real estate industry. For example, NHEL tenants are paying only K350 fortnightly for a three-bedroom house and K250 for a two-bedroom one. That’s way below what non-NHC tenants are being charged by private property owners in Port Moresby.
The NHEL is complaining that it owes its service providers
K16 million because it does not have the money, which it should have been collecting from its tenants.
On one hand it is complaining about the lack of revenue and on the other it is not doing anything about kicking those tenants out and finding better ones.
It does not make sense to the ordinary taxpayer. It does not make sense to any right-thinking person.
It cannot be that hard to carry out a rental collection exercise and issue warnings to all tenants that the NHEL will no longer put up with tenants who fail to pay rent on time.
Again, one would have thought that because many of the tenants were civil servants, their rent could have been deducted directly from their fortnightly pay and paid to the NHEL to avoid all this fuss. It does not seem to be the case at the moment because the NHEL will not have been complaining so much.
It can be a very simple process. Evict the defaulting tenants and offer the homes to families who are willing and have the capacity to pay their rentals fortnightly or monthly or whatever the suitable arrangement may be. Better still, arrange with their employers to have the rent deducted from their salaries and paid to NHEL.
New executive chairman Roger Otto has come in with fresh ideas on how to reduce the “massive liabilities” incurred by the business down to an affordable and sustainable level. We all hope his plans, which he is yet to disclose, will work.
The mess at the NHC has been allowed to fester for too long. It is now like a stinking old wound that has become too hard to treat.
Claims of corruption and political interference in the public housing industry have been doing the rounds for years but little has been done to find out what the truth is. There is a lot of covering up – for various reasons.
We hope Otto, or someone, can expose the fat cats who have been abusing the system and causing the leaks which have almost brought this public institution to its knees.

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