The Housing Monitor is publishing its periodic report on calls received during December 2021 and January 2022, reaching 34 cases affecting 155 individuals facing housing threats, of which 66 are minors, 18 are women and children living alone, 5 are elderly, and 1 disabled person. Around 65% of the callers live in areas affected by the August 4th explosion, in addition to calls from different neighborhoods around Beirut and its eastern suburbs (Ras Beirut, Mazraa, and others), Greater Beirut and its surroundings (Badaro, Ein el Remmaneh, Jisr El Wati, Dekwaneh), and southern suburbs (Jnah), as well as from other cities (Bchamoun, Choueifat, Bhannin, Al Minye, Bar Elias). The number of calls from Syrian nationals were almost as many as those coming from Lebanese nationals, followed by calls from other nationalities (Cameroon and Kenya).
The rent contracts of most of the callers had not surpassed 3 years, and many not even one year, indicating a systemic violation of the rental law. Despite the fact that the law clearly favors investment in real estate rather than guaranteeing the right to adequate housing, it clearly stipulates that rental fees and the right to rental units are fixed for the period of 3 years. In other words, landlords do not have the right to raise rents or breach the rental agreement before the end of the third contractual year. 60% of callers threatened with evictions are being harassed into paying higher rents, and half of these are receiving demands to pay their rents in fresh dollars.
12 reports for abusive eviction threats were documented in this time frame, most of which occurred in the neighborhoods affected by Beirut’s port explosion. The most abusive documented practices is the threat to evict by force without any legal recourse, followed by verbal abuse and racism, break-ins, and cutting off electricity and water from households. Suffering from these abusive eviction threats, include women living alone (2 reports) and families with children (7 reports).
We also documented 4 cases where renovation by an NGO in the aftermath of the 4th August port explosion contributed to raising rents, which places tenants under the threat of eviction.
In this report, 2 evictions of residents from neighborhoods affected by the port’s explosion living in Nabaa and Burj Hammoud were documented. They were evicted after the landlord unlawfully increased the rent during very short time frames. In one of the cases, rents kept increasing every two months (from 600 thousand LBP, to one million, then a million and a half), excluding expenses the rent amount used to include (water, electricity, internet). This was an eviction accompanied with a set of abusive practices. You can read about the story of Rayan here.
The Housing Monitor also received an eviction threat report from an informal Syrian refugee camp in Bar Elias that was established in 2018, and includes 20 tents. The camp suffers from inadequate living conditions in terms of basic electricity and water services, as well as an inappropriate healthy environment. The property owner is asking for higher rents and for the camp to be sponsored by an NGO. This is taking place in the absence of local municipalities’ management of residential camps within their jurisdiction, and foregoing their responsibilities in resolving conflicts, which might lead to human and housing rights violations.