Housing - Part rental policy re-activated |29 May 2021
Minister Rangasamy flanked by PS Barbe and Ms Volcère during the press conference yesterday (Photo: Joena Meme)
Individuals and families with a housing application and who are living in a rented private house due to social discomfort, can apply for part of their rent to be paid by government now that the latter has reactivated the part rental policy providing temporary financial assistance for those in a difficult financial situation.
The comment was made by the Minister for Lands and Housing, Billy Rangasamy, in a press briefing yesterday at the ministry’s headquarters, Independence House.
Present were the principal secretary for Housing, Denis Barbe and the chairman of the Part Rental Evaluation Committee, May-Paule Volcère. “In view of the pandemic situation, many people are facing financial difficulties and this programme is to help ease the life of the most affected in society,” Minister Rangasamy said. The primary aim of the policy is to provide temporary financial assistance to housing applicants in financial trouble who are renting out a private house while they wait to be assisted with government housing.
Minister Rangasamy said that the programme, which was being managed by the Agency for Social protection (ASP) and had to be stopped in December 2021 for revision, has now been transferred to his ministry. He added that a sum of R12 million, compared to R7 million in 2020, has been budgeted to assist those in need of the service. He noted that the assistance is subject to financial assessment by the evaluation committee comprising representatives from the ministry, ASP, social affairs, family affairs, employment, finance and local government, in which he has no interference in the decision taken. Elaborating more on the policy, PS Barbe stated that to qualify for the part rental, the applicant must not be paying a rent of more than R15,000 and has to also contribute 60% of the net income towards the rent while the government will cover the balance. He also stated that the contribution from government will not exceed R7000 and the duration of the scheme is for a fixed period of one year with a review to be made every six months.
PS Barbe said that other than being a housing applicant who due to over-crowding in the family home or substantiated/validated social factors (such as physical abuse), or certified with medical chronic condition, which does not permit the applicant to stay in the current abode, must also have been actively contributing towards the Home Saving Scheme (HSS) for the past three months, be in employment and have a valid rental agreement with details of the landlord contacts and account number, among other criteria for the part rental application. He said that the monthly income should not exceed R15,000 in the form of basic salary plus any fixed allowances, dues provided and household contributions and among others while the expenditures shall be in the form of basic needs and shall include the monthly household expenses of not more than R4000, rent payable not exceeding R15,000 monthly, utilities (maximum R500), land and housing loans (improvement loans), housing contribution, child support (of not more than R2000) and the newly added school internet facility (maximum R500) among others. “Rentals of R15001 and above will not be considered for processing as like applicants with a salary or combined income of R15001 and above will also not be eligible for the part rental assistance,” PS Barbe said.
He explained that upon meeting all of the laid out criteria, the applicant will then be subject to a financial assessment on the basis of monthly income against monthly expenditures only. He further explained that using a mathematical formula whereby the monthly expenditures are subtracted from the monthly income, the applicant who has a surplus of less than R2000 per month will be eligible for the part rental assistance and the one with a surplus of more than R2001 per month will not be eligible for the assistance. PS Barbe said that when ASP ceased with the part rental programme in December 2020, there were 326 applicants on the programme, some of whom were unemployed and others were receiving the assistance eventhough they had more than R2000 surplus per month, while 150 among them had less than R2000 per month after the financial assessment. He added that the new committee met for the first time on Thursday May 27, 2021 to work on some 150 dossiers in hand and they will be called in on an appointment basis. Those approved and were on the part rental programme will be back-paid for the rental fees as from January 2021. To conclude, Minister Rangasamy took the opportunity to also call on property owners to in this time of the economic situation, as a result of the pandemic, revise their rental fees (not to artificially inflate) and to make them more affordable for their tenants. He stated that the ministry will not tolerate collusions between owners and tenants and noted that action will be taken if such practices are discovered. As for the application form, it is available at the ministry only.
He said that that ministry is trying hard to attend to the 3000 applicants on the housing scheme although this year it will be able to build only 200 housing units due to financial constraints. He stated that the ministry will be constructing some emergency houses in two districts, to be identified, to assist those in desperate need of a shelter while they wait to be assisted with a proper house.