Local Coverage, Global Perspective

My Empty Apartment; Mogadishu’s Dreadful Housing Problems

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Ahmed Jeeyte

The Day I Found Myself in a Dark Room with No Running Water

October 4th 2021, marked the final month that I vacated my long-time rented residence apartment in the Taleh district of Mogadishu. I have lived in this apartment for three good years, during which it remained my comfort zone and I adapted it to become my own house. I’ve made a lot of good friends, formed strong bonds with my neighbors, interacted with locals, and, most importantly, gotten to know the area pretty well.

However, the circumstances surrounding my relocation represent only a fraction of the predicaments that tenants like me face at the hands of landlords, particularly the rising number of high-rise apartment managers.

Let me begin by explaining how we rented the apartment. It was the beginning of 2019 when two of my friends and I reached out to a local broker who rents houses to get us a three-bedroom apartment along the Makkah Al-Mukaram Road. The choice was obvious: security, educational institutions, and access to essential services, were all along this line. In addition to that, the place was close to my friends’ workplace. As a keen observer might reason, the high number of diaspora returnees, the migration of many populations from other parts of the country, and the scarcity of modern, befitting houses have jammed the already small number of apartments in the city. As we were hunting a house, one broker contacted and congratulated us on finding a flat in the Taleh area. He connected us to the owner, who was from the diaspora in one of western Europe’s countries.

He had his own terms that were nightmares for a modern youth: two months’ deposit, no more than a certain number of friends or visitors, and an expensive rent of USD420 per month that was due on the 5th of every month and was accompanied by extra charges like electricity and water.Nonetheless, we moved to this new apartment and agreed all the terms and conditions, albeit we have felt both economically and socially draining.

After three years, the apartment owner comes one morning and orders you to leave the apartment. “You have one month to move out,” he said without giving any reasons other than the fact that he needs his house. We have tried to convince him that we need more time to look for a befitting house and consider our request as long-time tenants who have put a staggering amount of USD 15,120 in his pocket for only rent in the past three-year period. I discussed the problem with my friends. Moving out was compulsory but not easy because we had local restaurants, supermarkets, and shops that believed in us and trusted us as their customers. Sometimes they lend us for a long time.  The days were counting down.  Days turned into hours and hours turned into minutes. The final day came and on Friday morning, October 1st, we found ourselves in dark rooms with no running water or electricity. The reason was obvious; we had crossed the deadline. We called the manager of the apartment and requested 5 more days. Although he got annoyed, he accepted, and we moved out and relocated our new flat. ‘Unfortunately, our apartment is run on this philosophy. The tenants have no rights and can be kicked out in the middle of the night without prior notice.

As tenants, this is a call to action towards apartment owners. I don’t know if the meeting that Banadir Regional Administration and the apartment owners had on October 13th 2021 discussed this issue.

But we are suffering. We need affordable housing, with unnecessary preconditions and defined terms and conditions.

Ahmed Jeeyte is public health practitioner and anesthetist. He is also a blogger who is passionate about medical and societal issues. He is on twitter https://twitter.com/axmedjeeyte and his blog is axmedjeyte.wordpress.com/

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