THERE is a common trend among landlords owning shopping malls to charge rent in dollars. The shopping malls are dotted across the country and there are tenants renting shops at the said malls.
Getting into the nitty gritties, the Kwacha is the country’s legal currency and as such any business transaction must be conducted in the local currency. Failure to transact business in Kwacha is illegal and this should not be condoned.
Transacting in foreign currencies is tantamount to committing an offence. The landlords charging rent in foreign currencies particularly the dollar is not fair. This is because the move affects the tenants who at the same time are entrepreneurs. The tenants will pay high rentals as a consequence.
High rentals in this instance are exacerbated by the depreciation of the Kwacha. The implication of the volatility of the Kwacha is that any depreciation of our currency against the major convertible currencies will lead to high rentals to be paid.
The dire consequence of this scenario is that the tenants will fail to honour the rental obligations. There is need for inspectors from the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry to conduct random inspections at the foreign-owned shopping malls quoting rentals in dollars. The landlords leasing out houses and charging house rent in dollars should also be dealt with accordingly because they also transgress the law. Worse still, this is exploitation of the tenants.
Landlords who will be found wanting should be arrested and ultimately be jailed so that they can face the full wrath of the law as trading in foreign currencies is illegal and it was outlawed a long time.
ELEMIYA PHIRI, Lusaka