The rent is greater than the Lebanese’s salaries

It is no secret to anyone that the suffocating economic crisis that Lebanon has been suffering from since 2019, and which continues to this day, is getting worse day by day.

This crisis resulted in several social crises, including the shortage of medicine, bread, petrol and electricity. Today, the economic decline is causing a new crisis, the housing crisis, especially in Beirut, with the decision of many homeowners to switch from paying their rents from Lebanese pounds to dollars.

Given the difficulty of securing dollars for tenants whose monthly salary is not sufficient for them in the first place, this decision threatens many individuals and families with exploitation and displacement.

After the fall of the local currency against the US dollar, the salaries of workers and employees have lost about 97 percent of their value, and are no longer sufficient to ensure basic needs, at a time when prices have risen dramatically after the government stopped subsidizing imported goods and materials.

The increasing demand for the dollar in Lebanon is directly related to the daily change in the exchange rate of the lira, which leads citizens to lose the value of their bank savings and the value of their monthly salary, as the average salary of employees varies between 60 and 120 US dollars based on the exchange rate. While the banks were asked to dollarize salaries by Circular No. 161, it was limited to some people and only for a limited period, and some complained about the banks accepting a different price for the dollar.

In light of this situation, property owners attempt to “dollarize” rent to maintain the value of their monthly income, and as a result, the value of rent has become very high, which has been largely reflected in individuals, since it is the largest amount that ‘ an individual pays in a month, and it determines how a person will spend the rest of his income, and what his lifestyle will be. During the summer months, rental demand increased in the presence of expatriates, but even after the expatriates left, many homeowners preferred to keep their homes empty, rather than rent them out with the continued loss of value of the lira.

Many young people are looking for acceptable houses, or even a bed in a room, to keep some of their monthly income, but the sudden shift of rent from the lira to the dollar has increased the financial burden on them, and the rise in the price of petrol by more than 60 percent, has made the employee’s movement from And to his duty station a significant financial burden and this means that living in areas relatively far from the workplace, perhaps with cheaper rent, is not possible.

Going to court is also not the best solution. In the event of a legal dispute over the price of the house, the apartment may end up being forcibly evicted, benefiting the homeowners.

“I live in the Ashrafieh area, when I lived a year ago, the owner of the house used to take the rent in Lebanese pounds, and she raised the price twice in less than a year until it reached 7 million Lebanese pounds without a generator. account,” says Carmen (pseudonym), 30 years old, journalist. She lives in Beirut and receives her salary in Lebanese pounds, which is equal to about $200. And she added: “Last month, the owner of the house requested that the rent be in US dollars, 400 dollars for renting a house with electricity subscription – which is about half of my salary.”

Carmen points out that her situation is not exceptional, as all landlords have raised rents unreasonably since the beginning of the year. And she continues: “The cheap houses are far away and I don’t like living there. My neighborhood and friends are now close to me, in addition to the cost of transport and taxis, if I took a house in a remote area have. , it will be equal to the rent of this house or maybe more with the cost of transportation to my work. I am still looking. There are other options, but for sure I have to look for additional work if I want to live a decent house. “

Diala, 24, who works in business management and lives in a shared house in Jounieh, north of Beirut, notes that the rent for one room was 1 million liras (currently $25) – out of her monthly salary of just 2 .5 million lire.

After a while, the owner of the house increased the rental price to two million pounds, which means the room rent is close to Diala’s total monthly salary. “In August, the owner of the house came back with a new tune and asked our girls to vacate the apartment because his sister wants her, but we know that he wants to rent it in dollars and not in Lebanese pounds.”

Diala currently lives in a dormitory – a building that provides sleeping places and housing for large numbers of students and employees, but the monthly price of a room in Dorm is not less than one million lire: “After paying the rent and basic necessities paid, there is nothing left of my salary so that I can help my family, who are also suffering from collapse, the value of their pension.

Eli (a pseudonym), 25 years old, works in the field of art, and his salary varies between 9-10 million pounds (currently worth $250): “I lived with my girlfriend in a Beirut neighborhood, but I decided to look for a small house, one room or one.” Studio, because I want to live alone, but all the apartments I found want rent in dollars, or they want a very high rent if it’s in lira, and most of them want you to pay them 3 months in advance paid. The rent I found ranges from 300-400 dollars, without the generator subscription (it’s at least $100), which is equivalent to double my salary. So I gave up on the idea of ​​living alone because of the high cost, and I’m now looking for a room in a shared house, but that’s not a solution either. a house.”

The problem is that moods control the relationship between the landlord and tenant, due to the absence of any active role for the state in regulating this relationship, which results in many problems. Before the current economic crisis, in most cases there were clear contracts between the tenant and the owner of the house for a specific and fixed price. Today, and due to the change in the exchange rate of the lira, most house owners do not accept not writing. contracts except in US dollars, and some of them do not accept the registration of a contract in any currency, so they can always increase the price.

According to the Housing Monitor, the tenancy law called the Investment Act issued in 1992 gave the owner the right to conclude the contract in dollars or pounds, but the owner did not have the right to refuse to be arrested in the national currency and at the official exchange rate. After the economic collapse of 2019, the exchange rate of the lira against the dollar changed, and the dollar had several prices: there is the official one, which has remained at 1,500 liras until now, or the price of the dollar on the exchange platform , which amounted to about 29 thousand, and the black market, which today is equivalent to 39 thousand Pounds to the dollar.

This financial network is reflected in the relationship between the owner and the tenant At what price does the tenant pay if his contract is in dollars? Many brokers are trying to exploit the crisis to make more money. Going to court is also not the best solution. In the event of a legal dispute over the price of the house, the apartment may end up being forcibly evicted, benefiting the homeowners.

“Before the crisis, the rent of my family’s house in Ain al-Rummaneh in the Baabda district of Mount Lebanon was paid in advance for 6 months or a year without any delay, and the monthly rent was one million and 200 thousand pounds, equivalent to 800 dollars at the time. Now, with the owner’s demand to pay the rent in cash dollars. , the rent was raised to $600 per month. The landlord’s strange argument is that we live abroad,” says Maya (34). an engineer living in Dubai. She added, “Of course the amount is illogical. My father, like all people, loses his salary in Lebanese pounds. It is impossible to accept this exploitation. My family rejected the offer and threatened to go to court. Negotiations are still ongoing and the search for another home is also ongoing.”

Rawan, 25 years old, from Beirut, lives in Fuaiyeh in Furn El Chebbak, Baabda District. Al-Fawayeh are apartments divided into bedrooms, often rented to students, or to those who cannot rent a whole house, and the rent is either for one bed, or for a number of roommates.

Although renting one bed is supposed to be within the capacity of students and employees, the process of renting beds for students has become a profitable investment, since the price of renting one bed is not less than one million Syrian pound is, in addition to other expenses. , such as subscription to electricity generators and the Internet.

“I used to pay a million pounds for the bed. A while ago the owner’s request raised the price, and then he asked me to pay in dollars, the amount reached 65 dollars per bed without any services and without electricity, and with one bathroom for more than 4 girls,” adds Rawan: I had a disagreement with the owner of the king and left the place, so I can’t even afford the price of a bed with my current salary not pay I now live with my partner in Sidon, although my work is in Beirut, until I find another alternative.”

Since the emergence of the rent dollarization crisis since the beginning of the year, some initiatives have emerged, including the creation of groups on Facebook, to exclusively display apartments in Lebanese pounds, but these have not succeeded, and in the remained shadows, since most of the apartments offered are outside Beirut, and as long as the owners of the houses prefer to keep them vacant, provided that this is done. Renting them in pounds loses its value every day. If the house rent this month is 4 million pounds, this is equal to $100, but after a month this number will be less than $100.

Many families will not be able to pay their monthly rent, exposing them to the risk of displacement, from Beirut to the suburbs and countryside, where rent is cheaper but transport is more expensive, and they are once again trapped in a vicious economic cycle. , about how the meager salary will be spent.

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