By Nana Ama Gyasiwaa Asare
Nana Ama Sakyi-Obuobi was plainly refused an accommodation she wanted to rent in East Legon on the basis of the tribe she came from. The landowner told her that he does not rent out his property to people who came from the tribe Sakyi-Obuobi belongs to due to previous experiences he has had with tenants from that tribe. A United Nations Habitat report on Ghana’s housing sector in 2011 proves that this situation is a very common one Ghanaians encounter when searching for accommodation to rent.
According to a study by the Rand Corporation on housing in Los Angeles, since the price of rent is set and there are many applicants, a landlord has the incentive to choose tenants based on other factors. Thus, it is commonplace for landowners to refuse to rent out their properties to tenants based on prejudiced reasons. Some of these reasons may be based on the sex, age, tribe, nationality, and occupation of the person looking for accommodation.
Evans Ofori, a young man in his mid-twenties with dreadlocks, on his search for accommodation to rent was unsuccessful on several occasions until he finally found one.
“I almost gave up on searching for a place when I decided to move out of my parents’ house,” Offori said. “My agent would call me he’s found a place and we would go to meet the landlord and he will say he does not give his house out to rasta boys”.
Phyllis Kpetigo, a young lady in her early twenties, also recalls how she had to prove she was doing an “honest” job when she was looking for a place to rent.
“The landlord asked me to bring a letter from work and my bank statement to prove I could pay my rent,” Kpetigo said. “I felt kind of insulted when he told me he wanted to be sure I wasn’t going to turn his house into some kind of brothel because that’s what girls do these days”.
According to the laws of Ghana, all individuals are equal and no one should be discriminated against on grounds such as gender, race, colour, creed, social and economic status, religion or ethnic origin. Thus, landowners commit an offense when they refuse to rent out their apartments to people based on these grounds.