Statistics show that Tehran is the most challenging capital city worldwide for purchasing a house. The cost of an average house in Tehran is estimated to be equivalent to 158 years of wages for individuals in lower-income occupations. In comparison, the corresponding figure for Muscat is less than five years, Islamabad approximately 47.8 years, Seoul around 30.4 years, and Lisbon roughly 30.2 years.
The plight of workers has taken an even more tragic turn, as they now encounter excruciating challenges even when attempting to rent a house. Housing has transformed into a monstrous issue within the country, while the officials residing in opulent palaces remain indifferent to this critical situation. Furthermore, the surge in prices of basic goods has endangered the ability of disadvantaged workers to have children and establish families, compounding their struggles even further.
A significant portion, comprising at least 50%, of the population, which exceeds 42 million people, belongs to the working class and is either homeless or residing as tenants. The promise of regime president Ebrahim Raisi to construct one million housing units annually remains unfulfilled, particularly when it comes to meeting the needs of workers and retirees.
In addition to the failure to fulfill the constitutional requirement of building houses for homeless workers, the price of house rent has surged in the new year. The anxiety surrounding lease renewals and steep rental rate hikes has become an enduring source of suffering for workers. Throughout Tehran, it is nearly impossible to find a monthly rent below 70 or 80 million rials, with the added burden of having to pay at least 5 billion rials as a mortgage payment. The housing situation has reached a point where affordable options are scarce, further exacerbating the challenges faced by workers.
Workers and retirees have consistently expressed their concerns about housing during their ongoing protests. The regime’s media regularly features news stories about individuals resorting to living in trailers or sleeping on rooftops, highlighting the dire housing situation.
A field survey conducted on housing advertisement websites like Divar reveals a staggering one hundred percent increase in house rent in one year. Furthermore, the obligation to increase house rents by 25% in metropolitan cities, including Tehran, lacks proper enforcement and executive guarantees.
The price of renting an apartment in the suburbs of Tehran, such as Andisheh, Pardis, and Parand, has also experienced a significant surge. In fact, the rental cost of a house in these areas now equals the price of renting a similar apartment in Tehran just one year ago. Additionally, in these suburban areas, the total cost of a mortgage exceeds 2-2.5 billion rials.
Moreover, over the past two years, the ability of workers to secure rental accommodations, especially within Tehran and metropolitan cities, has drastically deteriorated and essentially reached a point of impossibility.
The inability to rent a suitable apartment is not confined to Tehran and its vicinity; it extends to other cities as well. For instance, in the metropolis of Rasht, it has become increasingly challenging to find an apartment that is affordable, even with 60 to 70 percent of workers’ wages. Furthermore, the regime has effectively relinquished control of the housing sector, leaving it in the hands of brokers and traders, many of whom are associated with the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).
It is concerning that the “real housing costs” are not factored into the calculations of the inflation rate by the regime’s Statistics Center, as well as in the calculation of the livelihood basket for working families. This omission can be attributed to the complexity involved in measuring housing costs accurately. However, it is crucial to recognize that housing constitutes a significant portion of the livelihood basket for working families, accounting for more than 50% of their expenses.
It is unfortunate that, following the collapse of housing cooperatives and institutional housing, workers and impoverished individuals have been deprived of support in relation to housing. This can be attributed to the fact that the circulation of liquidity in the housing sector serves as a source of income for banks, wealthy individuals, and large companies affiliated with the IRGC. As a result, these entities may have vested interests in preventing the housing sector from achieving stability and security.
The decision by the regime to increase the mortgage amount with high interest poses significant challenges for workers. As stated by the Minister of Roads and Urban Development, the proposal to raise the loan amount to 5.5 billion rials is being considered and is likely to be approved. However, it remains unclear how a worker earning 90 million rials per month would be able to qualify for a housing loan of such a substantial amount.
Indeed, the monthly installment for a mortgage of 5.5 billion rials would likely exceed workers’ monthly salaries. Furthermore, it is important to note that even with a substantial amount like 5.5 billion rials, it remains difficult for a worker to purchase a house in major cities.
It is disheartening to see that the dream of workers to even rent a house on the outskirts of Tehran has become increasingly unattainable. Moreover, the regime’s Minister of Housing and Urban Development has not provided a clear explanation as to why the cash flow in the housing sector remains high, nor has there been a clear plan outlined to address the housing needs of the poor. The lack of affordable housing options leaves many workers and impoverished individuals without viable solutions for securing a roof over their heads.