Rent prices double in Qamishli, payable exclusively in dollars

House and shop rents surge in Qamishli without a set value mechanism - June 24, 2024 (Enab Baladi/Majd al-Salem)

House and shop rents surge in Qamishli without a set value mechanism - June 24, 2024 (Enab Baladi/Majd al-Salem)


Al-Hasakah – Majd al-Salem

Alwan Hussein (46 years old) was astonished when the rent for the house he lives in with his four family members on the outskirts of Qamishli doubled, with the stipulation that the amount be paid in US dollars.

The landlord’s decision was a shock to Hussein since the house consists of two rooms next to a kitchen with a tin roof. He has been renting it for about two years on the outskirts of Qamishli, an area he described as “very poor” in terms of services and dilapidated infrastructure.

Hussein told Enab Baladi that the landlord gave him until the end of June to either vacate the house or pay $55 per month (approximately 850,000 Syrian pounds at the current exchange rate).

The man added that the house is in poor condition, and he was forced to live there because it was on the city outskirts, with a rent in Syrian pounds that matched his daily wage from working in food warehouses and the vegetable market.

He mentioned that this type of house has become difficult to find, as he searched in several other neighborhoods for an alternative residence but found that all property owners are demanding rent in dollars, with prices reaching up to $100.

In dollars with advance payment

According to what Enab Baladi found from several real estate offices in Qamishli, the dollar has become the basis of real estate transactions, whether selling, mortgaging, or renting. House rents now range between $70 and $100, and it is rare to find a property for rent at $50.

Ahmed al-Khalil (60 years old), owner of a real estate office, told Enab Baladi that all real estate transactions have switched to the dollar and that the Syrian currency has become a thing of the past.

He added that tenants looking for a house for rent are asked to pay the “deposit” in dollars to ensure the value of the money does not diminish due to the continuous deterioration of the Syrian pound.

The “deposit” is a sum that the tenant pays to the landlord and gets back upon leaving the house, during which time the landlord can invest and benefit from this money.

Al-Khalil mentioned that the problem is not just the high rent and collecting it exclusively in dollars, but also that tenants face the issue of having to pay several months in advance, at least six months, meaning the person needs to secure $600 (about 9 million Syrian pounds at the current exchange rate) to be able to live in the house.

This amount is high compared to the economic and living conditions of the residents, as the minimum wage for Autonomous Administration’s employees is about $70 per month, while the salaries of employees in regime-controlled areas are about $18.

House and shop rents surge in Qamishli without a set value mechanism - June 24, 2024 (Enab Baladi/Majd al-Salem)

House and shop rents surge in Qamishli without a set value mechanism – June 24, 2024 (Enab Baladi/Majd al-Salem)

Decision without implementation

The rent hike is not limited to housing but also affects shops and warehouses, which have doubled in rent, payable in US dollars.

A worker in pharmaceutical warehouses told Enab Baladi that the warehouse owner suddenly raised the monthly rent from $300 to $800 (about 12 million Syrian pounds) per month. When the worker refused, he had to move the entire warehouse to the city outskirts where the rent was lower, but still in dollars.

In a tour by Enab Baladi of several commercial shops and offices in Qamishli, monthly rents ranged from $200 to $800 depending on the area and proximity to the city center.

Despite the Autonomous Administration issuing a decision in 2021 that set the monthly rent value for housing between 50,000 and 150,000 Syrian pounds depending on the house’s amenities, this decision remained on paper, according to residents.

According to Enab Baladi’s monitoring, the opposite is happening; the Autonomous Administration itself sets the monthly rent value in dollars and encourages the “dollarization of the real estate market”. This was evident with vendors in the Hattin popular market in Qamishli.

Qamishli Municipality set the monthly rent for a stall measuring three meters in length and 2.5 meters in width at $30 (about 450,000 Syrian pounds), prompting stall owners to demand a reduction in the monthly rent.


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