Quick Guide 07 – Rental Housing: a much neglected housing option for the poor

Millions of people in African cities are tenants. Rental housing may be only a partial answer to urban housing problems, but it is an important housing option – especially for the urban poor, and particularly in situations where people are not ready or able to buy or build houses of their own. Rental housing is an integral part of a well functioning housing market. In spite of this, govern- ments in Africa have done little to support the improvement of rental housing which already exists or the expansion of affordable rental housing.

Rental housing markets are influenced by, and respond to, local economic and political conditions and regulatory frameworks, and operate very differently from city to city. Landlords and tenants develop and use rental housing in flexible and inventive ways to maximize the asset value of their properties and to satisfy their accommodation needs.

It is important that policy makers understand the intricacies of their cities’ rental housing (both for- mal and informal) and know how to formulate effective, flexible policies to promote and regulate it. This guide presents the nature of rental housing markets and how they function. The issues of demand and supply of rental housing are discussed, including the concept of rent-free housing. The Guide considers the characteristics of good quality rental housing and sound landlord-tenant rental arrangements, and presents policy options to promote and regulate the expansion of rental housing – especially for the urban poor.

This Guide is not aimed at specialists, but aims to help build the capacities of national and local government officials and policy makers who need to quickly enhance their understanding of low- income housing issues.

Download the rest of the series below, as well as the Facilitator Guide that comes with it: