By Esther Namirimu
Renting a house in areas around Kampala has become ridiculously expensive. Even houses in areas which seemed cheaper before are now getting out of reach.
Two weeks ago, I went house hunting for a two-bedroom, self-contained and fenced house in areas near the city centre like Bukoto, Ntinda, Kiwatule, Kamwokya, Naguru, kisaasi, Najjera.
I had a budget of sh1.6m to cover the first four months but to my disappointment, this money was not enough. All the nice houses in these areas had a starting price of sh500,000.
To make matters worse, each landlord was asking for six months deposit, or four months after serious bargaining. But because of issues like transport costs, I did not want to live too far from the city centre.
What made matters worse was the rate at which house brokers exploit desperate house hunters. I had four brokers recommended by friends. Before a broker starts on the job, he will ask for inspection fee of sh20,000 or 30,000. Others even ask for sh50,000.
Brenda Kwagala, a resident of Naalya, says do not be surprised if you pay inspection fee and the broker takes you to occupied houses or those that do not match the needs you specified to him.
She added: “In case you like one of the houses and agree to rent it, be ready to pay commission. They calculate their percentage from the total amount you are paying the landlord.”
Kwagala noted that she was flabbergasted when the broker asked her for sh200,000 as a commission from the sh2.4m that she was supposed to pay for rent.
“To make matters worse, I had wasted sh120,000 paying different brokers’ inspection fee. After exploiting me they also asked the landlord to give them their share for bringing in the tenant,” she added.
Be ready to pay a transport fee for the brokers to each house they take you to inspect. That is separate from the inspection fee. And when you finally move, depending on how much property you have and how far your new home is from the old one, you probably will not pay less than sh50,000 for transportation.
This fee, however, does not include charges for lifting and packing the property onto the vehicle and unloading it on arrival at your new home.
Before you move...
Baton Mugerwa, a property agent, advises that if you are thinking of moving, first do your research and make sure you have enough money to cover costs like inspection fees, commissions and transportation for yourself and the brokers.
“You must have enough money for four or six months deposit, since most landlords do not accept anything less,” he added. Mugerwa cautions against fake brokers who exploit desperate people. Such brokers will give you a higher rental fee than what the landlord is asking for.
“For example, if a landlord is asking for sh350,000 for a three-bedroom house which a broker believes can fetch sh500,000, he can advise you to pay sh500,000 and later collect his money from the landlord. He advises house hunters to work on the contract directly with the landlord so that you can negotiate without being cheated.