Tenant Activists to Help Set Rent Levels in Venezuela

Tenant movement activists will help authorities inspect properties and set rent levels as part of the implementation of rent controls in Venezuela.

The initiative comes as the government’s National Superintendency of Leased Housing (Sunavi) prepares to begin inspection of leased properties to determine their value. This value will then be used to set the price at which a given property can be rented.

Sunavi and the Metropolitan Tenants Movement held a workshop in Caracas yesterday to train volunteer inspectors, who will accompany and monitor Sunavi officials on the inspections. Around 200 tenant movement activists, community council members and construction students received the training.

“The workshop is simple and easy…the objective is that we endorse the inspections,” said Merlene Sierralta of the Bolivarian Tenants Movement, who participated in course.

Similar courses will be held throughout the country, and demand for the workshop yesterday far exceeded expectations.

Property inspections will begin next week, with 2,500 requests to inspect and set the rent level already lodged with Sunavi by tenants in the Capital District alone.

Sunavi inspectors will use the Housing Ministry’s methodology to calculate a property’s “real” value. The methodology uses 256 categories including property structure, materials, contents and location.

“It is a scientific process that establishes a method that was compared with schemes applied in other countries,” explained yesterday the head of Sunavi, Ana Marina Rodriguez.

The concomitant rent level will then be set, of between 3% – 5% of the property’s total value over a year. Multiple property owners must charge less rent than single property owners.

“What we want to find is a balance, without speculation and so that the rent level is honest. Housing isn’t merchandise, it’s a human right, [and] that’s this government’s commitment,” said Rodriguez.

After an inspection, the inspector, tenant and landlord must sign a document recognising the Sunavi property value and rent level. Rodriguez argued that the inclusion of grassroots sectors in monitoring inspections would promote transparency in the process.

The implementation of rent controls follows the passing of the new Leasing Law last year. The first draft of the law was introduced to Venezuela’s National Assembly by tenant movements under the “people legislator” mechanism, after gaining over 400,000 signatures.   

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