Reducing the rent of Hiya flats

When the Maldives set the minimum wage, it was set at MVR 8,000 and for any household that was living on one or two minimum wage salaries, the cost of living was still high.

We all know Maldives is an extremely luxurious destination that only the riches can afford, but Maldives is not only expensive to travellers. 

With the continuously increasing rent in the country, day-to-day life in the Maldives can be extremely unaffordable for the majority of people who live in the country. This statement is true, especially when it comes to those who migrate to the capital city Male’. While people move for various reasons such as an improved quality of life, better education or access to tertiary-level healthcare, all of this comes at a cost: high rent.

Renting houses or apartments in the Greater Male’ Area usually amounts to two paychecks for an average working person. With the rent of a single-room house starting at MVR 10,000 (USD 648) and two or three rooms apartments going for as high as 25-30 thousand Rufiya  (USD 1,621 - USD 1,945) the cost of living is usually unaffordable and has to be split between several working members of a family. Sharing rooms with several other family members while still paying the majority of the salary towards rent and paying a large sum towards bills and groceries is the lived reality of the average person in the Maldives.

In order to find some resolution to this increasing problem, the Maldivian Government in collaboration with countries such as China and India has started and completed several housing projects. One of the first successful housing projects to be completed was the Hiya flats, which was carried out by former President Yameen, with residents moving in during 2021. As the Hiya flat housing scheme was largely targetted towards those struggling to afford the unimaginable rent in the Maldives, for the first few months the residents of Hiya flats lived rent-free as the Government wanted the residents to have an easy time moving in and covering the initial costs that come with moving into a new house.

However, after the 'grace period' was over, the cost of Hiya flats was set at around MVR 8,500, and while this rent price is lower than any other flats or apartments in the Greater Male’ Area, for those making the minimum wage this rent price was still unaffordable. When the Maldives set the minimum wage, it was set at MVR 8,000 and for any household that was living on one or two minimum wage salaries, the cost of living was still high. 

And now that is has been a while since the residents moved in, settled down and had time to think about the improvements that can be made to make life easier for those in Hiya flats, many residents appear to have brought up the issue of the rent price still being high. 

Due to this reason, on Sunday 19 March 2023, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih met with the ‘Hiya peoples association’ in order to discuss the possibility of reducing the rent prices of Hiya flats. 

During this meeting, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih discussed three main options to this problem - which included reducing the rent price for repayment period of loans taken by the owners of the Hiyaa flats for the finishing work; reducing rent for those who cannot afford it after conducting a survey; and reducing the rent for everyone. 

"The President gave the assurance that with these three options, and after discussions with the special committee, he will meet with us once more with their decisions,"  said the Hiyaa People's Association Super Admin Ali Rifau.

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