The introduction of proper accommodation facilities in Omuthiya, as opposed to informal flats that were once considered the norm in the capital of the Oshikoto Region, has resulted in property prices and rental fees skyrocketing beyond the reach of ordinary residents.
The town of Omuthiya, which was once thought to offer a relatively affordable life style where one could easily manage to purchase or rent a property, has become a bitter pill to swallow in recent years as an influx of government offices, workers and people from the surrounding areas continue to push up prices.
The increase in property prices in the infant town is said to be spearheaded by the demand for property. Communities from the area are flooding to Omuthiya either for employment or business purposes and this has become an opportunity for property developers and landlords to develop properties in response to demand.
Some locals are now comparing the town with some of the bigger cities such as Windhoek, Swakopmund and Walvis Bay where almost half of an individual’s salary is gobbled up for rental purposes, while buying a house is a mere pipe dream.
In Omuthiya a two-bedroom house is now understood to be valued between N$700 000 and N$900 000 compared to the past when one could get the same house for less than N$500 000. Meanwhile, a three-bedroom house can clinch a million dollar price tag and upwards.
Meanwhile rent, which is the best option for the majority has also grown in bounds, with a two-bedroom flat or house starting from N$4 000 to N$5 000, while bachelor and backyard flats tag at N$1 500 to N$3 000. One tenant living at one of the flats informed this reporter that it took him approximately four months to secure accommodation in the town, saying it was difficult to find affordable accommodation.
Another Omuthiya resident stressed that some developments have been standing like white elephants because no one occupies them due to the exorbitant rental price.
Confirming this, Israel David, Omuthiya Town Council’s Local Economic Development Planner, noted that property developers are taking advantage of the fact that most regional offices are coming to the town, meaning demand is now higher than supply. This, said David, enables developers to set prices.
“Council is availing land for residential purposes whereby council can build flats to increase accommodation facilities thus breaking the monopoly policies as they will be enough. Furthermore, council is working around the clock to service more residential plots which will be allocated to people so that they can build their own houses – this also might reduce rental prices,” stated a confident David.
“However at the moment council does not have exact measures in place to regulate rental prices,” replied David when asked whether there are any mechanisms in place to control rent.
Meanwhile, the rise in accommodation prices comes amid calls to establish a rental control board that will monitor and set property and rental prices country-wide, a measure which could have far-reaching implications for developers who finance property development from their own pockets.