Regional News of Friday, 1 November 2013
Source: Graphic Online
Angry landlords and tenants of Suhum yesterday took to the streets to demonstrate against what they described as “overwhelming and unprecedented” upward adjustment in property rate by the Suhum Municipal Assembly.
Last August, the assembly introduced a new property rate of 0.005 multiplied by the value of one’s property.
The angry demonstrators stated that the new property rate was extremely high and could compel landlords to charge higher rents, which would be difficult for ordinary families and individuals to pay.
The protest was championed by the members of the Suhum Landlords Association, who were backed by hundreds of tenants in the area.
The protesters started their march at 6 a.m. from the Suhum Overhead and went through some principal streets of the town before converging on the Suhum Municipal Assembly, where they presented their petition to the Suhum Municipal Co-ordinating Director.
Clad in red and black T-shirts, with red bands around their necks and wrists, the protestors carried placards, some of which read, “MCE, do you want tenants to sleep on the streets?”; “We will not pay the current property rate until there is a total reduction”; “Rubber stamp assembly members. Shame unto you all”, and “MCE, you are setting a bad precedent for Suhum”.
The Spokesperson for the Suhum Landlords Association, Mr Henry Kofi Akomeah, stated that the decision of the assembly to impose property rate of 0.005 for 2013 was “overwhelming and unprecedented” and called for the rate to be reduced to 0.001.
Producing property rate bill certificates to justify their action, he stated that a landlord who paid GH¢25 in 2012 was now being made to pay higher property rate, depending on how the property was valued by officials of the Land Valuation Board of the Lands Commission.
Making a comparison between property rate charged at Suhum and those charged in New Juaben in the Eastern Region and Ga West in the Greater Accra Region, he stated that landlords at Suhum having properties valued at GH¢10,000 would pay GH¢50 based on 0.005, unlike the 0.00085 and 0.00077 paid in the two other areas, which would be GH¢8.50 and GH¢7.70 respectively.
“Today, a landlord in Suhum with a building valued at GH¢10,000 at the base rate of 0.005 will pay more than 10 times what his counterparts in the other areas pay,” he stated.
Mr Akomeah said prior to the imposition of the huge property rate by the assembly, the executive of the Suhum Landlords Association had held a meeting with the Municipal Chief Executive, Mr Samuel Fleisher Kwarbi, who told them that the assembly had increased its property rate.
“We asked the assembly to bring down the rate but it decided to peg the rate at 0.005 and we considered that too high.
“Prior to the imposition, the assembly had assured us that it would get back to us before taking any final decision and so what it did was contrary to our expectation,” he added.
Mr Akomeah pointed out that the unpreparedness of the assembly to reduce the property rate could push the landlords to also increase their rent charges astronomically, a move that will “make renting a decent apartment expensive for the people”.
When the Daily Graphic contacted the Suhum Municipal Assembly, the Budget Analyst, Mr Ndinga Nboringyi, stated that the assembly decided to revalue property in the area in 2008, since it had previously charged unassessed property rates based on the number of rooms in a building, which he described as “unfair”.
“We had families and individuals staying in low-valued properties who paid the same rate as others occupying high-valued buildings with more rooms and that was not fair,” he stated.
He said the actual property assessment took place in 2010 and was carried out by officials of the Lands Commission in Suhum.
After the assessment, they sent the new property revaluation to the Land Valuation Office of the commission in Accra, which prepared a list of how much property rate was to be paid by landlords in Suhum.
“We later met the landlords and informed them about how the new property rate would be calculated and how much they should pay,” he stated.
“None of the landlords ever challenged the validity of the new rate until the 28-day period expired and the assembly passed the new property rate resolution,” he said.