Hiyaa Union calls to stop taking rent from tenants

Towers built under the Hiyaa Housing Project in Hulhumale'. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

The Hiyaa Union – an organization that advocates on behalf of Hiyaa flat receivers – released a press statement on Saturday, calling on the government to stop taking rent from tenants.

In the statement, the union highlighted that the flats were awarded to those most struggling families, single mothers and families looking after persons with disabilities, after evaluating living standards.

Hence, the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) announcing starting rent, especially during the month of Ramadan was a huge burden for many, as per the statement.

In addition to this, it noted that there was no room to take the rent amount dictated by HDC and the government.

At the moment, the government has set MVR 7,500 to be taken as rent, and an additional MVR 1,000 for maintenance.

The union further said flat owners have submitted a total of 1,900 separate letters from flat owners to HDC, expressing that they do not want to pay rent, and if they had to, the maximum they could pay was MVR 5,600.

The press statement “ordered” HDC to end taking rent as well as maintenance fees.

Furthermore, the statement said that the union continues to advocate reducing the rent of HIyaa flats and resolving many other issues regarding that flats as well. 

On previous occasions also, the union had initiated demonstrations to cut down rent of the flats and to increase the grace period to complete finishing works for owners.

The government had already extended the grace period thrice. With the latest extension deadline being the end of March.

Whilst Hiyaa Flat tenants continue to express concern over the high rent charged – the government has stated they the rent cannot be lowered any further as they a due to pay back the loan drawn out to develop the flats.

HDC had previously stated that since the Hiyaa project was undertaken with a loan obtained at a commercial rate, the rent cannot be cut down.

During the tenure of former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, MVR 6,000 was set as the rent amount, including maintenance fees.

However, HDC’s audit report published in 2021 stated that this price did not take into consideration the loans taken to fund the project, interest amounts to be paid for refinances, and the cash flow needed to pay back the loans.