We occupy a land that is rather vast and abundant with resources, enough for our small population of a little less than four hundred thousand people. Given the sheer amount of resources that we possess in relation to our very small population, all of us should be well off.
Well, at least we should all own a decent piece of land to live on, coupled with a fair piece of farm land and possibly even a recreational or investment plot of land either by the waterways or somewhere in the hills among the verdant and lush tropical forests.
But truth be told, that’s not the case for us. The masses of our people are subjected to abject poverty and destitution. The majority of the population struggle daily to afford for themselves the bare minimum. We trod along, inching from little to little, and find ourselves in a constant battle to make ends meet.
The poor live and occupy sub-standard places of abode that mirror the ills that they face daily. Their homes do not meet climate resiliency standards and are left to the mercy of the wind in times of despair.
Those of the middle class who have decent jobs and can do a little better find themselves in an unsettling predicament. The majority of our middle class population find themselves renting homes. The rent that they pay is bloated and is exacerbated by the fact that there are few to no regulations regarding rent in Belize.
Landlords have the liberty to charge as much as they desire, and because we are in a desperate state where we need somewhere to live, we are forced to to pay these (oftentimes) exorbitant rents.
But why or how has renting suddenly become such a huge trend in Belize? Well, there are many factors that have caused renting to become such a big thing in Belize, but let’s explore the two main causes. The first and primary cause is the unavailability of land to the people. You may be trying to figure out the connection between the availability of land and renting.
Well, see, middle class couples make a decent enough income to afford a mortgage. However, given the high cost of living in Belize, disposable income is not in abundance. Therefore, while the income they receive is sufficient for them to afford a mortgage, a couple is unable to obtain a mortgage because they do not own a piece of land, which (usually) is a pre-requisite for a mortgage.
Couples are then forced to decide whether they should get a separate loan to procure the land, or try to amass the funds for the land. This then leads the couple to resort to renting until they figure out a way to acquire a piece of land, in hopes of getting a mortgage.
Furthermore, renting has become so common in our small country because (in my humble opinion) banks and lending institutions don’t do enough to foster a climate where young working class people can own a home. The parameters are set too high and are (oftentimes) out of reach.
A working class couple is expected to own a piece of land, have a borrowing history, and have a prescribed saving threshold, and oftentimes, because the working class person is paying an exorbitant rent, they are unable to meet the mortgage requirements and thus, do not qualify, and have no choice but to continue renting.
For me, it’s amazing to hear of the amount of rent that working class people pay monthly to landlords for these apartments and houses. I am thinking that if these people are able to pay hundreds of dollars in rent — in many cases, a thousand or thereabouts, then they should be given serious financial considerations for a mortgage: paying monthly towards something that they can actually own over time.
It is more evident than ever, that renting is stifling our people. Apartments and houses are being made available daily, and the rates are skyrocketing! Our working class people are left with no choice but to sign on to one of these agreements that (in some cases) require first and last month deposits, and a security deposit, and are coupled with many rules and limitations.
After a working class person pays their rent and covers their utilities, groceries and living expenses, very little is left over for saving or even for recreation.
It is my firm belief that renting needs to be regulated in Belize. There should be an established rate, or policies that regulate what can be charged for an apartment versus what can be charged for a two-bedroom wooden house in comparison to, say, a three-bedroom cement bungalow.
Regulating rent will protect and safeguard the interests of the people.
Furthermore, banks and lending institutions should endeavor to do more for (young) working class individuals to enable them obtain their own property. Renting history should be taken into consideration for a mortgage, because if one is able to pay an exorbitant rent for years, there’s a high possibility that they will be able to service a mortgage.
The times are getting critical! And we need to really examine all the angles of the economic sphere and seek out ways to offer reprieve to our people. When we support our people and allow them to buy into a dream, then our society will begin to grow and thrive, and be more productive for generations to come.
Let’s seek to regulate rent in Belize and offer serious and prudent consideration to our young and working class population so that at the end of the day, we can all go home, turn our locks and softly smile and sweetly whisper: “Aah, Casa Dulce Casa”!
God Bless Belize!