HARARE – The Harare City Council (HCC) is locking out defaulting tenants at Matapi flats in Mbare who owe significant amounts in rentals.
The tenants have been at loggerheads with council over their failure to pay rent and electricity bills.
It was revealed during a 100-day Rapid Results Review workshop held in the capital that the tenants were owing $500 000 in electricity bills alone as at October 2017.
Since then, council has been pushing to install individual prepaid electricity meters for each apartment so that tenants pay for what they consume.
“In a bid to recover the debt, council was locking houses at Block 4 and 5 Matapi Flats (on Wednesday) for tenants who owe the city in rentals,” said the Combined Harare Residents Association (Chra).
“Information gathered by Chra is that after payment of $20, the city officials would then remove the lock and allow access to the tenants”.
Chra accused council of violating Section 51 of the Constitution which gives every citizen right to human dignity and also Section 68 which guarantees right to administrative justice.
Residents further claim that the council was ambushing tenants who were not at home by locking them out in a bid to coerce them to service their debts.
HCC spokesperson Michael Chideme confirmed the development, stating that some of the tenants have begun making payments and were allowed back into their apartments.
He said the few who remained in arrears had begun making payment arrangements to avoid the inconvenience of being homeless.
“We are encouraging residents who are paying rentals to third parties to come to council so that the leases can be put in their names. The ones in the apartments are the people in real need of accommodation not those who are subletting,” Chideme said.
He added that everyone should contribute towards service delivery by paying their rentals and rates and to also take advantage of the 50 percent discount facility which is set to expire on October 23.