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  • Hon. Dr. Morais Guy, is calling on developing countries to implement housing policies aimed at making rented accommodation more attractive.
  • According to the Minister, home ownership had been encouraged over the years and renting neglected to a great extent.
  • He cited growing urban populations as a strong reason for governments to place more importance on rental housing.

Minister with responsibility for Housing, Hon. Dr. Morais Guy, is calling on developing countries to implement strategic housing policies aimed at making rented accommodation more attractive to persons seeking housing solutions.

Minister Guy was speaking at the recently concluded General Assembly of Ministers of Housing and Urbanization in Latin America and the Caribbean (MINURVI) held in Santiago, Chile from September 30 to October 3.

He said that the scale of the housing challenge in developing countries is rising and that the need for real action to address affordable housing supply is becoming increasingly critical.

“One way forward in dealing with this challenge is for governments and local authorities to keep abreast of new knowledge on best practices and approaches by other countries to inform the formulation of effective policy instruments. Policies should be implemented to help increase the supply of new affordable rental housing and reduce rental costs for low and moderate income households, while encouraging large scale investment and innovative management of affordable housing,” he said.

According to the Minister, home ownership had been encouraged over the years and renting neglected to a great extent.

“There needs to be a paradigm shift as the rental sector is a huge market that needs to be tapped into,” he stated.

He cited growing urban populations as a compelling reason for governments to place more importance and value on rental housing as a viable option.

The Minister also indicated that rental housing accommodated a significant percentage of the population in large developed societies such as Switzerland and Germany and that in some African countries namely Benin and Egypt, rental housing comprised almost one half of the percentages for home ownership.

He also made reference to seasonal industries such as tourism, farming and construction lending themselves to renting, adding that national policy could profoundly impact housing tenure within any country.

One of the significant benefits to renting is the correlation between the development of the rental sector and a reduction in the squatter population in urban centres across the world, he said.

In comparing the situation in Barbados with Jamaica, Minister Guy pointed out that the rental housing stock consisted of 17.5 per cent of the total housing units in Barbados and that rental housing is provided by both the public and private sectors.

While explaining that the landlord and tenant relationship is governed by laws, which protects the interests of both parties, he said that the government of Barbados had also taken the step to ensuring housing stability by encouraging the subsequent purchase of rental properties.

He pointed out that in Jamaica, rental housing is very important in the Kingston Metropolitan Area in particular, due to high property prices, high housing demand and the availability of opportunities for employment and business.

He said the ministries with responsibility for housing in Jamaica and Barbados recognized that there was a need to bring a new approach to the regulation of privately-provided rental accommodation and that the Jamaican Rent Restriction Act was being amended in that regard.