Thursday, 14 August 2008 10:47 AM

High Rental Rates Boosts Demand for 'Informal Housing'

As cost for rent in Honiara continue to spiral out of control a new market has emerged - the informal housing sector.

Rents in Honiara starts at the rate of SBD$10,000 a month, but rents of SBD$5,000 to SBD$7,000 a month are also common. These are supposed to be the lower scale of the formal housing market in Honiara.

In the outskirts of Honiara, informal housing is now a booming 'mini-industry'. New informal homes are being built and as the demand for them continues to rise, many tenants do not seem to mind the lack of electricity or water.

"The rent usually start at SBD$500 a month," stated one tenant, a junior government officer. "It could go as high as SBD$2500 a month and less than 5 years ago, that was the rental price for an executive home."

These informal homes are often built without approval from the Honiara City Council, and, more often than not, it is being built not by qualified builders.

"In Solomon Islands we don't need qualified people to build houses. People with creative minds can build too," said Peter Sela, who is currently building his informal home West of Honiara. "Houses such as this are popular since they are the only affordable homes for the vast majority of those working in Honiara."

A spokesman from the Honiara Town Council stated that they lack the capacity to monitor these 'illegal' homes. He admitted that there is a huge increase in the informal housing sector and hundreds of families are now living in such homes. "I think it would be inhuman, and honestly risky, if we were to go there and speak on the legality of their homes," he adds.

As the demand for affordable housing continues to rise, many builders are turning their attention to the informal housing market. It is quite tempting since one does not need to be a qualified builder or have a stamp of approval from the Honiara Town Council.

"We can't just sit here and expect a miracle to happen...anybody who knows how to build houses must expose their skills because there is a huge demand to build these sorts of houses," said Mr Sela.

Letters to the Editor All Letters
By STEVE BANI Vura Heights, East Honiara
By GEOFFREY MAURIASI USP, Lacuala Campus, Fiji
By CHARLES KOULI Gizo, Western Province