The law may be on her side, Aminata Diop * may well be forced to leave the small apartment in the working-class Parcelles Assainies district, in the north of Dakar, which she occupies with her four children. “My landlord would rather I leave than enforce the new rent reduction decree. With new tenants, she could even increase the price, “says the divorcee, who was counting on the decree which came into force on March 1 to reduce her bill.

Designed to limit the soaring prices that weigh down the budget of the Senegalese middle classes, the new text on rent control imposes a 15% reduction in monthly payments of less than 300,000 CFA francs (457 euros). A reduction set at 10% for those below 500,000 CFA francs and 5% beyond.

Welcome cuts, but insufficient in view of the explosion of recent years, especially in the capital. Between 1994 and 2014, rents increased by 256% in the Dakar region, according to the most recent government data. Over the past ten years, they have still been multiplied by three or four, according to Elimane Sall, president of the Association for the Defense of Tenants of Senegal (ADLS). The costs allocated to housing represent on average 37% of the household budget.

In 2014, a law had tried to regulate prices by imposing a reduction of 4 to 29% depending on the amount of the rent and by fixing the prices according to the size, the location or the dilapidation of the accommodation. But in practice, it had been little applied.

“This time, the authorities anticipated the problems of lack of follow-up and control on the ground so that the decree was more applied,” said Mr. Sall. A National Rent Regulation Commission (Conarel) has been set up and a toll-free number has been created to answer questions from tenants and landlords. Since March 1, more than 3,000 calls have been received, including 75% for inquiries and 25% for misunderstandings or disputes.

“The texts relating to rents are often poorly applied. This requires pedagogy and awareness, because there is a real lack of information”, explains Momar Ndao, the president of Conarel, who recalls that in the event of non-compliance with the regulations, the lessor can be sanctioned. two to six months in prison or a fine of 20,000 to 1.5 million CFA francs.


These threats were not enough to convince the real estate agency that manages Souleymane Ndiaye’s accommodation. She refused to reduce her rent, “but I will apply this reduction, because I know that I am in my rights”, explains the sexagenarian, who has lived in his apartment for two years. “With a rent of 230,000 CFA francs, a 15% reduction will save me 414,000 CFA francs over twelve months, or almost two months of rent. It is enormous ! “, welcomes the retiree.

But not all tenants are so confident. “Faced with the refusal of the landlord, many give up, either for fear of being evicted, or for lack of means to pay a bailiff,” remarks Mr. Sall, of the ADLS. He also observed that landlords “use subterfuge to get tenants out, for personal use or reconstruction…then they rent at a higher price to new entrants.”

To help tenants, the decree also provides for setting the deposit at an amount equivalent to two months’ rent, but “only the equivalent of one month is payable on entry into possession”. Another boost: “The costs related to the agency or brokerage commission are reduced to half a month’s rent for leases whose amounts are less than or equal to 500,000 CFA francs. »

A measure that does not satisfy Mamadou Mbaye, president of the Federation of Real Estate Agencies and Brokers of Senegal (Facis). “This decree will reduce the income of real estate agencies, because the commission is our livelihood. How are we going to be able to manage our daily life? asks the professional, who has received several worried calls from donors in his portfolio. “They have bank loans to pay off, not to mention management fees or rental income taxes… What if their income goes down? »

He would have liked more structural measures in the long term: “We need social rental housing in Dakar, where the State would be the main landlord to compete with the private sector, as well as measures to return to hire-purchase, which allows to acquire a home more easily. It should not be limited to a reduction in rents. For the moment, this measure removes from the pocket of a Senegalese to put it back in that of another Senegalese. »