The Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has launched the innovative National Rental Assistance Scheme (NRAS) in Accra.
The NRAS, to be managed by a private sector property manager under the auspices of the Ministry of Works and Housing and other key stakeholders, is designed to make rental accommodation more accessible, affordable and convenient by taking away the unfair burden faced by lower-income households and the youth across the country of multi-year rent advance payments demanded by landlords.
The initial rollout, with a seed funding of Ghs30m, will take place in the Greater Accra, Ashanti, Western, Eastern, Bono East and Northern Regions, where data from the Ghana Statistical Service indicate renters have the greatest challenge with rental accommodation.
“In partnership with the private sector, the Scheme will provide low-interest loans to eligible Ghanaians to enable them to pay rent in advance. These loans will be repaid monthly to match the tenor of the rent and will be insured to ensure sustainability.
“The Scheme will target individuals in the formal and informal sectors with identifiable and regular income. The rent advance loans will be paid directly into landlords' bank accounts, who would also have to register with the Scheme,” Dr Bawumia explained at the launch.
Recounting the various steps which culminated in the Scheme being part of the NPP’s 2020 Manifesto, Vice President Bawumia emphasized that the interventions undertaken by the Akufo-Addo government since it assumed office in 2017, particularly the National Digital Property Address System (GhanaPost GPS) and the National ID system and Mobile Money Interoperability, had made it possible to roll out a scheme where all parties are confident of conveniently having their needs met.
“As a people-focused government, providing meaningful shelter for our citizens has formed a significant part of this government's developmental goals and measures taken to address problems associated with the housing sector, especially the rental housing sector, have remained vital to our development agenda.
“When I visited the Rent Control Department in July 2020, I noted the overall importance of the rental housing market in our quest to increase access to housing options. I reiterated plans by the government to make the Rent Control Department more effective and efficient while reviewing the Law governing rent management in the Country to make it more relevant to evolving trends.
“More importantly, I also mentioned that on the issue of payment of rent advance, the government is putting in place plans to introduce a new programme to bridge the information and financial gap between tenants and landlords. These measures would enhance tenants' creditworthiness and reduce the need for large rent advance requests by landlords.
“I am particularly excited to learn of the eligibility criteria that have been adopted in the selection of beneficiaries for the Scheme. It does not only support the call to synchronize all platforms with the National Identification System but also the data produced from the implementation of the Scheme will facilitate government efforts at expanding our revenue stream through the improved collection of Rent Tax,” he stated.
The Minister for Works and Housing, Mr Francis Asenso-Boakye, expressed gratitude to all partners and stakeholders who, despite initial challenges, had worked together to address the short-to-medium term market failures in the renter segment of the housing market.
Mr Asenso-Boakye called on the media and other stakeholders to assist the government in informing and educating the general public on this all-important Scheme, noting that “public programmes of this nature may come with its operational challenges during implementation, but we are confident experiences and lessons would be learned to make the Scheme better across the country.”
Applicants to the Scheme must be Ghanaian, possess a valid Ghana Card, be at least 18 years old, have verifiable employment and earned income evidenced in a bank or mobile money statement and the rent payable must not exceed 30% of the household income. Parents can also guarantee for their children.
The results or status of applications will be released within 5-10 days after the applications are released, according to the managers of the Scheme, Rent Masters. Additional information can be found at www.nras.gov.gh