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Indebted TBA tenants brace for eviction

TANZANIA Building Agency (TBA) will next Tuesday start evicting all its indebted tenants in four regions after the first phase of the operation was briefly halted in Mtwara Region due to heavy downpour.

Indebted tenants who are bracing up for the second phase of the operation are from Dar es Salaam, Morogoro, Dodoma and Coast regions.

TBA leadership fell short of disclosing the amount of cash that the tenants in the four regions owe the Agency, but late last year the management said over 7bn/- was in the hands of over 400 tenants across the country.

The first phase of the operation kicked off about two weeks ago in Mtwara Region, but faced interruptions after a heavy downpour pounded the region, prompting Yono Auction Mart, a firm contracted to carry out the operation, to suspend it for about a week.

TBA Acting Chief Executive, Said Mndeme, who is also the Director of the TBA Intellectual Property Department told the Sunday News in an exclusive interview that indebted tenants who failed to pay their accumulated debts after being served with notice late last year were evicted.

“Yono started working in Mtwara Region where some defiant tenants were evicted from their homes. However, due to heavy rains that hit most parts of Mtwara, the operation proved a bit difficult, forcing us to postpone it,” said Mndeme.

He said while some managed to settle their debts with TBA, majority failed to do so, prompting the Agency to undertake the operation.

He said after the Agency experienced a tough time in collecting rents from its troublesome tenants, the management will no longer engage them in new contracts, instead it will deal with them through other means, including eviction.  

 Mr Mndeme said the debt from Dar es Salaam and Dodoma based tenants has been ballooning as the Agency has more than 1,800 houses in the two regions.

“In Dodoma alone we have more than 1,000 houses, while in Dar es Salaam we have over 800 structures.

This is where we expect the operation to focus on because the debt is huge,” he said.

He insisted that the Agency will not renew contracts with indebted tenants as part of measures to avoid accumulation of debts (arrears).

According to Mr Mndeme, tenants who heed the call by paying the debts on time will be spared from the operation, adding that public servants who pay at least 75 per cent of their debts will have their request for contract renewal considered while working out an arrangement to complete payment of the remaining part. 

 He said the agency will not accept payments that account for ten or 15 per cent of their debts.

 “You serve a notice to the tenant to pay, let say 10m/-. Later he tells you that he has settled part of the debt, but when you look at the pay slip, you find he has paid only 800,000/- out of 10m /. We will not accept this practice,” said Mr Mndeme.

TBA Operation Committee leader, Mr Gilbert Mwasambo said despite being given prior notice, the response is still poor because only about 25 percent of all tenants have responded.

He said the TBA team is well prepared for the second phase which is expected to start next Tuesday. 

"The TBA headquarters team has planned to supervise the brokers (Yono) to see that the work assigned is thoroughly done," said Mwasambo.

He said when the second phase is completed, they will start the third phase which will involve the northern regions, meaning Kilimanjaro, Arusha and Tanga.

Mr Mwasambo said the policy is not to evict them, but they are supposed to pay so that other work can continue as planned, including renovation and construction of new houses that could be rented or sold to other public servants at affordable rates.

He said as long as the government decided to offer them with good housing, they have to follow rules and regulations to make sure they pay accordingly to make them enjoy the tax relief from the government, so they must strive not to be evicted.

"If the government decides to offer good houses to its public servants, then they have to pay for TBA to continue with renovation for better housing. The policy is not to evict them from the house, one should pay and try to comply with existing laws and regulations.

The government has offered a relief for public servants to have affordable standard houses. They should strive not to be evicted and suffer the fate of finding other unsafe housing,” said Mwasambo.

End of last year, TBA Chief Executive, Architect Daud Kondoro called upon all TBA tenants to pay their debts before the end of 2020, warning that no excuse will be considered when the eviction operation starts in January.

He disclosed that the total debt was 7.3 bn/- from 423 tenants in all regions, and that all of them had been served with a notice, including 69 tenants from Dar es Salaam region, which expired on 31st December 2020.

He said after the expiry of the notice, the Agency will have the list of names of tenants who failed to clear their debts, which will be presented to court brokers for further legal procedures.

Architect Kondoro announced that in January 2021, legal action will be taken against the defying tenants, including evicting those who will have not paid their debts.

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