Council clamps down

The Harare City Council has vowed to end the illegal conversion of residential properties for commercial purposes. In its recent meeting, the council said suburbs like Mt Pleasant and Waterfalls were fast losing their residential character as companies established their businesses in cheaper houses.

For many years, landlords have been taking advantage of this situation by letting their houses to companies and non-governmental organisations.

The majority of residential flats in the Avenues area have now been taken over by commercial concerns.

One landlord said he lived in his cottage and let a business tenant occupy the main house as a way of augmenting his income.

“Due to unemployment I converted my main house into offices while I stay with my family in the cottage. I get $1,400 for letting the main house, and that is equivalent to the salary earned by a manager,” said an Avondale West resident who spoke on condition of anonymity. – Thabani Dube

Other home-owners have turned their houses into business premises. Samuel Magirazi of Waterfalls said he ran a preschool at his house as a means of earning a living.

“I did not apply to council because this is my property and I do what I want with it. In fact I bought a Kombi and converted half of my house into a nursery school over which my wife is the manager and we employ a driver, a teacher and two care-givers as staff,” Magirazi said.

Council vowed to take action against offenders, but did not specify how and when.

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