Restrict ownership of multiple houses to ensure housing for all: Akter Mahmud

Rashad Ahamad | Published: 01:16, Dec 27,2019 | Updated: 21:24, Dec 29,2019


Akter Mahmud

Jahangirnagar University Urban Planning professor and also Bangladesh Institute of Planners president-elect Akter Mahmud said that there were many people who were earning only from house rents as they owned several flats and plots in Dhaka.

‘If the government can restrict people from owning multiple houses in Dhaka, it will help in creating opportunity for the rest who have no houses of their own and are compelled to live in rented houses,’ he said.

He also added that the Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha have adopted a policy regarding the issue but it is hardly ever implemented.

The urban planner said that an affordable, decent home was one of the top three basic needs after food and clothing, but that did not mean the ownership of house. But the people in our country are only dreaming of owning houses, he added, saying that the majority still cannot afford apartment houses.

He said that decent housing in affordable prices was one of the basic rights of the citizen which has not been given much thoughts.

He explained that an affordable, decent housing was a housing facility where a service-holding citizen of the country could live with his/her family members in a decent environment by spending 30 per cent of the income. But people in Dhaka were spending more than 50 per cent in many cases but were not getting decent or quality housing facility to live in.

Akter Mahmud identified a number of causes behind the expensive but low-quality housing and added that the government failed to control land value which ultimately affected the flat or plot value and house rent.

He said that the government has fixed the land price but the real price was much higher than that.

Akter said that housing became costly as government investment in housing sector was nominal and the government’s policy failed to control private investors which essential for controlling land price.

If the government could facilitate land, housing would be cheaper and efficient, he said.

He added that everyone, including slum people spent huge amount on housing but the private realtors were focused solely on developing housing projects targeting upper class people.

‘Provide decent housing based on needs of the particular groups of people as different groups need different types of homes depending on their level of income,’ he asked the realtors.

He suggested that there should be varied initiatives, including student housing, studio housing, and different size- and rent-based housing facilities for the urban majority.

He said that the government should initiate social housing projects as many countries including Norway and Sweden has successfully done so.

The governments in those countries have built houses and provided them for the residents on rental basis. People only could rent the house according to their needs.

Akter said that instead of providing basic housing services for the residents, government agencies like Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha and National Housing Authority started doing business with the residents to earn profits.

He said that it was also found that land prices in many areas were increased after the agencies started housing projects there.

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