Rents in Islamabad are increasing as Afghan refugees arrive

Shining BD Desk || Shining BD

Published: 11/10/2022 5:40:30 AM

Tenants in Pakistan's capital are complaining that Afghan refugees are pushing up rents. Many of the Afghans say they can't move on because of delays getting visas to Western nations.

With his lease expiring in almost three weeks' time, Qamarul Islam is hunting for a new house to rent in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad.

That's because he can't afford the massive rent hike sought by his landlord, he says.

This story is commonplace in Islamabad. The capital is experiencing an increased demand for lodging that many say is due to of the tens of thousands of Afghan nationals who fled to Pakistan from Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover last year. 

"I rented this two-room place in December 2020 for 55,000 rupees ($250, €249) a month, with a 10% hike midway through the two-year occupancy and hoped for agreement renewal with a rent increase of 10% or so," Qamarul Islam said. 

"But now, the landlord is demanding 20,000 rupees more, which is simply not affordable due to inflation-induced income squeeze. I'm looking for a new dwelling with lower rent," the college teacher told DW at his apartment in an upscale neighborhood.

The 42-year-old, who lives with his wife and three children, says that rent had soared because of the influx of Afghan nationals in recent months.

Looking to the West for asylum or resettlement

After the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, many of the families that had previously worked with US or NATO forces or foreign organizations, and that were unable to evacuated, left the country fearing hostility from their new anti-Western Islamist rulers.

Those who fled included educated and professional men and women.

Afghan refugees still in limbo