Under the mullahs’ rule, Iran’s housing crisis has exerted severe pressures on many Iranian families.
“Regarding housing, as President, I admit that we had setbacks in the Eleventh Administration. Unfortunately, a number of our housing projects were not executed and implemented,” said the regime’s president Hassan Rouhani.
However, the question is, which projects were not implemented, and who is responsible for skyrocketing housing prices? Who are the beneficiaries of expensive houses? In this context, the state-run Tahlil-e Bazaar website quoted a housing expert who shed light on the government’s role in the housing crisis.
“For instance, you sell a house for 10 billion rials ($40,000). However, when you want to settle transfer taxes, the tax organization says, ‘This property is worth 20 billion rials because we want to receive more tax.’ Therefore, the constructor says, ‘My house is worth 20 billion rials, and the tax organization has calculated this price for my property.’ In fact, the government determined the price, not the people. Now, the Meli Bank is constructing houses in Chitgar district, as well as Aerospace Forces, the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC), and the Social Security Organization. [Government] offices are brokering,” the housing expert said.
“Now, several of our private banks have more than 1 trillion rials ($40 million) in Tehran’s housing market,” another expert added.
Furthermore, in its August 8 report, the state-run Asr-e Iran website revealed that plundering by high-ranking officials, banks, and state-owned companies is the flipside of the country’s housing crisis. “According to official stats, there are 2.5 million empty housing units across the country, and the execution of tax law of these units is delayed every day under a new pretext. The chair of Real Estate Advisors’ Union says, ‘These empty houses belong to special individuals of banks and state-owned companies,’” Asr-e Iran wrote.
Skyrocketing Increase in Housing Prices
“In recent years, rising housing prices have made it a dream for many families to buy and own a house. For years, many families saved one-third of their income, hoping to purchase an average house. However, in some cases, they have to wait 50 years to become homeowners,” Fars news agency, affiliated with the IRGC, wrote on June 12.
Earlier, on May 29, Tasnim news agency, affiliated with the IRGC Quds Force, blamed the Rouhani administration for the increase in housing prices in a piece titled, “Four-and-half-fold increase in housing prices during Rouhani’s two administrations.”
“The housing price was around 38 million rials per square meter in July 2013. However, it has reached more than 170 million rials with a 4.5 times growth in May 2020,” Tasnim wrote. According to official sources, the average housing price in Tehran has exceeded 210 million rials per square meter.
Notably, the regime’s Parliament (Majlis) recently passed labor law determined 18 million rials (approximately $146) as the minimum monthly salary for workers. All the while, many employees and workers have not received their paychecks for months, which has prompted them to stop working and launch prolonged strikes in a bid to obtain their fundamental rights.
In a video circulated among Iranian social media activists, a real estate advisor says, “Customer comes asking, ‘How long must I save my salaries and spend nothing to purchase a house?’ We sat down and actually calculated. Once, we estimated 400 months, another time, we estimated 60 years, 40 years. All of the calculations presumed the worker didn’t spend anything during that period!”
Shared Houses and sleeping on Roofs
“These days, as one of the most important economic sectors, the housing market is not in favorable conditions. The situation is so horrible that several reports indicate the emergence of two new phenomena in several areas of the capital, in addition to the growing population of slum-dwellers in Tehran and other metropolises. First, shared house or residence of two families in one house, and also, sleeping on roofs or renting places that lack minimum living facilities,” wrote the state-run Setareh-e Sobh daily on July 4.
“The mayor of one of Tehran’s districts has said that given inflation and expensive houses, residing around cemeteries, and sleeping in cars or roofs have become prevalent among workers in particular, and homeowners rent out their roofs to underprivileged people for 500,000 rials (approximately $2) per night,” the daily added.
In his June 28 remarks, Majlis Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf said, “These days, we witness bitter truths in media, and there is news about renting roofs.”
However, there is no optimist prediction about housing prices, and every day the poor’s conditions become worse. Dire economic conditions, along with current hardships and the ominous coronavirus outbreak have practically broken the back of needy segments of Iran’s society.
These “bitter truths” amplify the likelihood of the people revolting against the entire regime. Officials sense this danger and frequently warn each other about public rage. “When medicine is prescribed at 100 million and 500 million rials, the poor are left in despair because they cannot afford it. This anger will remain, and one day it will burst. We should keep this in mind. It will one day hit us very hard in the face, if not today, tomorrow… it will result in protests, dissent… this will cost all of us,” said Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi in an interview with state-run IRIB TV network on August 10.