SOHR exclusive | Immigration high expenses and dreadful living conditions force Damascus’ people to sell their properties
Monthly rent of a house in Damascus equals employee’s one-year salary
Recently, the prices of residential real-estate units in Damascus city, especially in major neighbourhoods in the city centres, have reached an unprecedented level. Meanwhile, the rental fees of houses and apartments in Damascus have increased dramatically, where the monthly rental house in the capital equals the salary of a governmental employee for a year. These soaring prices of purchasing and renting real states do not match the poor living conditions and low salaries, as the monthly salary of an employee has become less than the rent of even a room in major neighbourhoods in Damascus, such as Al-Malky, Al-Muhajereen, Kafr Susah, Abu Rummanah and Al-Qassa’.
The rental fees of houses in the capital, Damascus, start from 200,000 SYP in some areas, such as Mazzat Al-Jabal, while in Al-Malky and Kafr Susah, the rental fees reach 900,000 SYP.
Speaking to SOHR, a 55-year-old displaced woman from Al-Raqqah, who moved to Damascus ten years ago, says “I live with my family in a low-class apartment consists of two rooms and a reception in Kafr Susah, where I had to move to Damascus for my work, my husband’s work and the education of my children in Damascus University. When I moved to this apartment, I had paid a rent of 10,000 SYP, before the owner raised the rental fees in light of the Syrian currency plunge. As I am obligated to stay in this place, I had no choice but to accept the successive increases in the rental fee according to a semi-annual contract. Now, I pay a rent of 250,000 SYP, and this rate will increase again when I renew the contract.”
SOHR sources in Damascus have confirmed that many lessees are about to be homeless, where the soaring prices of all products in markets are accompanied by successive increases in rental fees; this, in turn, exacerbates the already dreadful living conditions.
A 45-year-old man nicknamed “Abu Aziz” who works in real estate marketing in Damascus has told SOHR, “the prices of commercial and residential units has increased greatly since 2021 for several reasons, such as the purchase of many houses and other properties by Iraqis and Iranians in Sayeda Zeinab area, Al-Mazza, Al-Muhajereen and Al-Malky. In addition, thousands of pilgrims and visitors who come to Damascus under religious tourism pay large rents for furnished apartments. These factors contributed to raising the rate of purchasing and renting real-estate units, particularly furnished apartments. The prices of real-estate units and rental fees in Damascus differ from one area to another, as they are higher in areas near the city centre and in major neighbourhoods. For example, the monthly rental fees of a furnished twin house or a villa provided with solar panels for electricity in Kafr Susah area range between 1,500,000 to 3,000,000 SYP, while the rent of a furnished apartment in that area has reached 700,000 SYP. On the other hand, some families live in unfinished apartments for a monthly rent of 150,000 SYP.
Another civilian known as S. M. who lives in Rukn Al-Din neighbourhood in Damascus says, “the monthly rent of a middle-class furnished house in Rukn Al-Din neighbourhood has reached one million and a half Syrian liras, although power outage lasts for over nine hours a day. While in other neighbourhoods, such as Al-Malky, Abu Rommanah, Al-Mazzah and Kafr Susah, rents may exceed two million SYP per a house. In areas with poor services in the capital, Damascus, such as Asad Al-Din, Al-Kikah and Barzeh, monthly rents range from 300 to 800 SYP.”
The man expressed surprise at those prohibitively high prices, despite the lack of basic livelihood, describing the prices of real estates in Damascus, as the highest in the entire world.
Explaining the way of securing those large sums of money, the man has confirmed that the lessees suffer greatly, as many of them depend on their relatives who live abroad for financial support in order to be able to pay the rent. Those prices cannot match the employees’ salaries which do not exceed 150,000 SYP, according to the man.
SOHR sources in Damascus have monitored increasing prices of selling real-estate units because of the so-called “religious tourism,” where the Syrian regime stages trips to Shia shrines in Sayeda Zeinab and Al-Hussayn shrine in the Umayyad Mosque, attracting Shia visitors from several countries, particularly Iraq and Iran.
Also, locals of Damascus sell their properties in order to move to areas with better living conditions whether in regime-controlled areas or outside Syria. Meanwhile, the Syrian regime turns a blind eye to the ongoing purchases of the properties of Damascus’ people by Iranians and Iraqis.