Breaking Down the Ghana National Rental Assistance Scheme (NRAS) for Renters: What You Need to Know
Paying rent in Ghana or renting a house, an apartment or a room in Ghana can be very complicated for first-time renters and renters who are in the process of renewing their rental agreements. Property owners and landlords often demand a year or two years of prepaid rent (rent advance) from potential tenants who are looking for residential accommodation.
The challenges associated with residential renting are compounded by the fact that Ghana is facing a housing deficit of 1.8 million housing units. This has created a huge demand and supply imbalance that favours property owners and landlords in the rental market in Ghana. The problem doesn’t look like it will go away anytime soon because of the high cost of building materials, higher rental rates, and mortgages. Again, factors such as low-income households, under-employment, and higher rates of unemployment in the country only make matters worse.
The government of Ghana is currently taking steps to make sure that all citizens have access to decent, secure, and affordable accommodation to all Ghanaians. As a result of this, the government has just introduced an innovative program to ensure that all lower-income households and the youth across Ghana have access to safe, secure, and affordable rental housing.
The National Rental Assistance Scheme (NRAS) is the newly introduced program that is intended to make renting accessible to Ghanaians. The Scheme is to provide very low-interest loans to lower-income households and Ghanaian youth for rent payment. The low-interest loans are available to qualified individuals and families who are first-time renters or old tenants who are in the process of renewing their rents with their landlords.
The Ghana National Rental Assistance Scheme (NRAS) was a political campaign promise. The New Patriotic Party (NPP) in Ghana made the promise during the 2020 Parliamentary and Presidential elections in Ghana. The rationale behind the idea was to introduce innovative approach to addressing the housing challenges in Ghana. Having won the elections and formed the government of the day, the National Rental Assistance Scheme (NRAS) has duly been introduced to assist renters in Ghana.
The Ghana National Rental Assistance Scheme (NRAS) will start its operations with GHC 30 million as seed money to fund the Scheme. The following regions are to benefit from the initial phase of the Scheme: Greater Accra, Ashanti, Western, Eastern, Bono East, and Northern Regions. Renters from these regions are said to be facing more difficulties with residential rental accommodation in Ghana.
The National Rental Assistance Scheme (NRAS) is to act as a rent exchange platform (an online portal) for property owners, landlords, and renters in Ghana. These stakeholders in the rental market in Ghana are required to register on this rent exchange platform or online portal. Property owners and landlords who are registered on the online platform will receive rent advance low-interest loans on behalf of qualified registered renters.
The rental assistance Scheme will deposit the entire rent advance low-interest loan into the bank account of the property owner or landlord and the renter will then pay monthly rent into the Scheme until the rent advance loan is completely paid off by the renter. Renters who may qualify for this program will come from the formal and informal sectors of the economy. They are required to prove that they have steady employment and regular incomes.
To become a beneficiary of the National Rental Assistance Scheme, qualified renters must:
- Identify a property of their choice: The renter must locate suitable rental accommodation. The potential renter needs to discuss and agree on the price, as well as other conditions of the rent.
- Notify the Scheme through the NRAS online portal: it is the responsibility of the potential renter to inform the National Rental Assistance Scheme (NRAS) through the virtual platform.
- A complete application is to be submitted either online or by using the paper application form.
- A processing fee of GHC 100 must be included with the completed application.
- The applicant is required to provide two forms of government of Ghana-issued identification cards, including the Ghana card.
If the National Rental Assistance Scheme application is successful and the tenancy agreement is signed, the Scheme will go ahead to pay the rent advance directly into the bank account of the landlord or property owner.
Requirements for the National Rental Assistance Scheme (NRAS)
The two major requirements to qualify for the National Rental Assistance Scheme (NRAS) are proof of employment and proof of income. Renters who fall under the targeted group and are employed in the formal sector must produce three (3) months of payslips.
For business owners and renters who fall under the category of the informal sector, the requirement can be fulfilled by submitting three (3) months of official bank statements or three (3) months of mobile money statements. Also, audited financial statements can be presented by business owners with the application for the Scheme.
In conclusion, renting in Ghana can be challenging and difficult for low-income and young renters. Although there is an existing rental law in Ghana prohibiting property owners and landlords in Ghana from taking more than 6 months’ rent advance from renters, property owners, and landlords continue to collect up to 3 years rent advance from new tenants and renters in Ghana.
Renting in Ghana is supposed to be made easy, convenient, affordable, and accessible for the youth and lower-income households who are first-time renters. The National Rental Assistance Scheme is to make it possible for vulnerable Ghanaian renters to be able to pay for accommodation on a monthly basis, just like most renters in other countries. For more information, visit www.nras.gov.gh