Category Archives: Property

Finding Your Home in Mauritius

Renting a property is usually the most preferred option when you first land into a foreign country. You would want to experience living on the island and ensure that you have made the right choice of career and destination. The island is relatively small so that you can travel from one end to the other end in a single day. In terms of location, there is, therefore, a wide variety of choices. With heavy traffic at peak hours in the morning and late afternoon, you would prefer to live closer to work. Some companies are now based outside Port Louis, the capital city. There is a number of business hubs located in Grand Bay (north), Tamarin (west) and Moka (center).  If you are able to set up your office in those business hubs, life on the island would be more enjoyable!.

Most expats would live in the coastal regions.  Not only would they have direct access to the sea, they would also be able to enjoy the night life that prevails in those areas. Mauritius has the wonderful advantage that most of its coastline is good for swimming and snorkelling. Only the south part is not great for swimming but a great place for surfing. The centre of the island such as Quatre Bornes, Moka also attract a number of expats as these places are cooler and less humid compared to the rest of the island.

Schools with international baccalaureate curriculum or with the French curriculum are available. They are all private schools and are found in the North or in the centre of the island. There are school buses available in case you don’t have time to do the school runs. They are run mainly by individuals who would then charge a monthly fee.

Foreign ownership of properties in Mauritius is also allowed in some specific locations designated as Real Estate Scheme (RES) or Integrated Resort Scheme (IRS). There are certain requirements for foreigners to buy properties and the Board of Investment of Mauritius latest guideline can be found here.

As is the case in the UK, a deposit is required when you move in. It is usually one month to three months rental. There is no guaranteed deposit scheme.  So, the refund of the deposit when you leave would rely mainly on the goodwill of the landlord. In terms of maintenance issues, it is advisable that these are spelt out in the rental agreement at the start. Building great rapport with your landlord ensures that your tenancy takes place smoothly.

A number of landlords prefer to manage their own buy to lets. They will advertise online or through their local network (word of mouth). There are several online portals. L’express property is the most well-known. Templates for the lease agreement are available on the website as well as other useful tips such as having pets with you when you rent a property. Most well established estate agents have their own websites: Park Lane Properties, Pam Golding, Seeff Properties etc.

Local estate agents do not require to undergo any professional training.  A number of them are SME’s with teams of 1-3 people or are self employed. They tend to specialise by region. Estate agent fees are not regulated and tend to vary depending on the location. It is recommended that you ask to meet the landlord so as to ensure that you are both on the same wavelength before you make your final choice. Also, asking for an ID on your first meeting with the estate agent is important. Mauritian IDs are now biometric and are standardised. So, this would help you to know whether you are dealing with the right person.

I have been surprised to note that there are a number of Mauritian properties advertised on Zoopla and Rightmove.  Most of them would be considered as high end as you would have your own swimming pool and provides access to a restaurant and spa facilities. They are mainly located on the coastal areas with sea view fronts for some of them. One bed property is not as popular as it is in the UK. Most locals live in an extended family: parents, children and grand children in two units, side by side or a large house converted into two maisonettes with the grandparents living in the ground floor maisonette. A number of young single professionals are now starting to leave their parents’ home to live on their own. As this trend continues on in the future, one bed property would become more readily available.

Finding Your Home In Dar Es Salaam

  1. Word Of Mouth And Referral Works Best.

Ownership of properties in Tanzania is restricted to holders of the Tanzanian passport or to companies locally registered in the country. All foreigners are expected to rent their accommodation. The private rental market relies mainly on word of mouth and referrals. Properties are advertised online or in the newspapers. However, there is no dedicated portal such as Rightmove, Zoopla as is the case in the UK. There are a number of estate agents operating but there are no standard rules such as the Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) in the UK.  In the UK, an estate agent needs to ensure that its employees have undergone a number of certified training. This is not the case in Dar.

  1. Location: accessibility to office – to be considered

Most landlords in Dar Es Salaam have a portfolio of properties scattered in various locations: Oyster Bay, City Centre, Masaki, Mikocheni etc. Choosing your location is mainly about accessibility to your office. As in many big cities, traffic jam is problematic and it can take 1-2 hours to drive a distance that usually takes 15-30 minutes when the roads are clear. This is even more challenging during the rainy season as the shortcuts that you could take to reach your destination can no longer be used.

Most expats love to stay in Masaki or in Oyster Bay because of the various restaurants, supermarkets and other facilities available in this area. However, rents are quite high as most people once they move in in a place, they tend to stay until it is time to go home. So, supply outstrips demand. Upanga which is the city centre is great if you want to avoid traffic jams. However, in terms of social life, it is quite limited.

Most roads in Dar Es Salaam are tarred. However, access to certain new developments is mainly through dirt roads. In the rainy season, access to those developments may be tricky if you do not have an SUV or a 4 by 4. It is recommended that you check as to how the landscape can change with local weather conditions. Even in areas where roads are tarred and because the drainage was not properly done, the level of water on the roads can rise rapidly making it difficult to drive.

  1. Rent Paid In Advance Before Move In.

Renting a property requires you to pay 6 months – 12 months rent in advance. Tenant referencing and credit check is not mandatory. This is a deal breaker for most landlords. Some major corporations can negotiate more favourable terms especially if they are looking for a number of properties for their overseas staff. Cash transactions are quite common and bank transfers are the next best means of payment favoured by landlords.

  1. Utilities Bill Can Skyrocket.

Electricity and water is rarely included in the rent. Electricity (LUKU) is pre paid and you can buy your monthly credit in advance at any gas station or in some shops. As power generation has still not yet caught up with the local demand, generators are regularly used to provide electricity for the whole building. The splitting of the bill amongst the residents is not scientific as there is no way of measuring how much power each household has consumed. It is recommended to discuss this with the landlord before you make up your mind.

  1. Maintenance and Other Facilities

Most apartments are in a gated community with security guards at the entrance. This is mainly to discourage local people to go in to sell their products or ask for work without being invited. Most landlords have a team who can help with small maintenance issues such as tap leaks, broken door handles etc. They can also provide other services such as replacement of LPG containers used for cooking, maid cleaning etc for an extra fee.

  1. Landlord Obligations

Tanzanian legislation is less strict than that of the UK. Requirements such as gas certificates, PAT Testing, building insurance are not compulsory. Fire exits and fire drills are also not well implemented in most buildings. New apartments have the advantage that all lifts are running properly. Over time, when the lifts are broken, they are not repaired immediately. It is suggested that you choose apartments that are easily accessible by stairs in case the lifts get broken.