Hiyaa flat rent cannot be lowered, says HDC

The Housing Development Corporation (HDC) has said it could not lower the rent charged for the flats leased under the Hiyaa social housing project.

A monthly rent of MVR 7,500 and a maintenance fee of MVR 1,000 are charged for the two-bedroom Hiyaa units. The government handed over the social housing units built under the scheme to its recipients without completing the finishing works such as tiling, wiring, etc. Three rent-free months were granted as a grace period to the recipients to complete the works at their own expense. When the grace period ended, the moratorium period was extended by a further three months. HDC began collecting rent at the start of this month.

While flat recipients have called on the government to lower the rent since the figures were first announced, HDC has not budged on its decision.

Recently, a letter signed by over 1,500 tenants calling to lower the rent was sent to HDC. Regarding the letter, HDC's Managing Director Ahmed Suhail Thursday said while rent collection began in April, many tenants had already paid rent. Although a petition was filed calling to lower the rent, Suhail said he does not believe most tenants have an issue with the amount being charged. He further reiterated that HDC could not negotiate on the rent as the corporation must make loan repayments.

'What I feel is that there are few complaints compared to other instances. Very near to the date rent collection commenced, we received a petition calling to lower the rent. We will respond to the petition. However, both the government and HDC have already announced that the rent cannot be lowered. As we have to repay our loan, we would not be able to make the payments if we charged a lower rent,' Suhail said.

Suhail further noted that most tenants had prepared in advance to begin paying starting April as previously communicated. He said HDC was working to facilitate more accessible arrangements for paying rent. In this regard, he said rent collection would be arranged at each tower starting next month.

Noting that over 4,500 families currently reside in the Hiyaa towers, Suhail said a population of over 20,000 people live in each tower. Flats have been handed over to 6,300 recipients, he said.