LIES LIES LIES: Brokers or house agents (for the fancy people), are one lot many of us have learnt not to have to face again during a househunt. These people have tainted the hustle so much that their tricks are getting old…too bad there are always freshers in the game and it will not be Kampala if you do not fall victim.
Everyone has a tale to tell about Ugandan house brokers. If you ever set out to rent a house in Uganda, you cannot avoid dealing with these brokers. If there is one group of people that over promises and underdelivers, you must count on the house brokers. By the time you land on a house of your choice, it will be weeks of dealing with a broker.
It all starts with a phone call to the broker. Depending on the area of your choice, Ugandan brokers will always assure you of abundance. Scarcity is not in their world. Speak of any house, and they will come back to you with tens of options. You then agree on the inspection day, that is when the drama begins.
On inspection day, the broker tells you about the need to pay for the transport fare. He will then proceed to show you around houses that look totally different from the brief you gave. At the end of the inspection, they will request for their inspection fee. Rarely will a Ugandan broker bring you to your preferred house on the first day. They believe in second chances.
It is on the second day that the broker will begin to show you options that make sense. But do not get excited yet. Now, it is not about the inspection fee. The target shifts to the commission. They will aim at having you clear up the three months of rent as soon as possible. Once this is done, they get to earn a fee from both the tenant and the landlord.
Normally, Ugandan brokers will take you to a house that is incomplete. It could be a missing bathtub, a missing sink or missing tiles. What’s the catch? “If you pay up now, they start on the works and the house is ready in days.” If you’ve heard about the pay now, we start off the works, then you have been renting around for too long. It is high time you moved into your own house. Incomplete houses will never get ready, at least not in the promised time.
Then comes the other trick in the bag of house agents. An apartment block will have different units, but they will intentionally show you around the nicest of all. In most cases, the apartment you choose is already taken. You only get to know about this after payment. The caretaker will then claim that the Landlady already took up money from a different client. The option is to have you take a less aesthetically pleasing unit, after all, it is all about having a rental unit. Before you pay up for a rental unit, be sure you are dealing with the actual owner of the houses. You could buy ‘air.’
But that is not all to house brokers. The inspection day requires a lot of patience. You will move to a house and wait for an hour before the caretaker brings the keys. You will move to another house, check it out, fall in love with it, before some random lady shows up to announce that it is already taken.
Have you also noticed that house brokers are never smartly dressed? They always look shabby from the onset. If it is not about a goatee beard, it is the crooked shirt and trouser. They also tend to love caps in all forms. And then when you think you are about to win the house agent race, you land on the pre-rental conditions from landlords. The landlords will talk about their untold rules. These will include their disdain for tenants with children. Some landlords will claim to have daughters and warn you to keep far away. Others will limit the number of visitors. You will also be told that the previous tenant left uncleared water bills, that you should clear them up.
A wise man once said, never pay for an incomplete house. Do not believe the lie that the moment you pay up, the builders will get to action and clear out the snags. Make sure that once you pay up, you get a genuine receipt plus the house keys. Be sure you are paying to the real owner, lest you cry tears of regret.
Finally, most brokers will show the same house to multiple people. There is a high possibility that multiple people have paid for the same rental unit. Do some background check, speak to the neighbours. Never trust online photos from house brokers. Often, the real house is different from what is being advertised. The number one rule of brokers is to lie. They will lie about the multiple options they have for you; they will lie about the actual rental fee; they will lie about everything. And if you find a reliable broker, never cheat on them!