The Private Rental market and Tenants in Formalization and Upgrading of Informal Settlements in Tanzania

The urban housing situation in many parts of the Global South is characterized by widespread unplanned settlements and a growing number of dwellers living in slum areas. Secure tenure, formalization of land holdings and upgrading through community participation are key words in the international policy agenda in tackling the housing situation. These measurements are to a high extent directed to plot holders and house owners. In many developing cities, including many in Sub Saharan Africa, large proportion of dwellers do however rent their accommodation. This projects wants to look deeper into their situation caused by the current proliferation of attempts to formalize land and of community based upgrading.

During the last decade the concept of secure tenure has increasingly become a focus of international institutions. This is for example seen in UN Habitat’s Global Campaign on Secure Tenure. The focus on tenure security through formalization of land tenure has drawn inspiration from Hernando de Soto’s (2000) notion of the “dead capital of the poor”[i] , which has become influential in development circles. Governments and donor agencies have increasingly involved themselves into programs of formalization of land in unplanned settlements. Tanzania is one example. The definition of formalization of land tenure in the context of this research is legalization of plots in unplanned settlements. This can be achieved in various ways, from giving plot holders temporary licenses to giving them legal title deeds to the land but they all contain an inclusion into a formally administrative and legal tenure system

Researchers have questioned the benefits for all dwellers of land formalization. One argument is that the tenure security for certain groups of dwellers can actually be reduced when land becomes more expensive and processes of gentrification can take place (see for example Payne, et al. 2009[ii] ). Tenants might be in the risk of facing increased rent levels after formalization of land. The task force on improving the lives of slum dwellers, as part of the work of the millennium development goals, has acknowledged that the situation of the high numbers of tenants renting in the “informal” rental market is difficult to tackle[iii] .

Although the increased attention in research, during the last   decades, towards the large proportions of urban dwellers who are tenants in private housing there is still a lack of empirical studies in Sub Saharan African cities dealing with effects on the rental market and on tenants in relation to formalization of land as well as to upgrading of unplanned settlements. With the neo liberal agenda and state withdrawal from service provision, participatory forms of planning and upgrading of unplanned settlement are common in policy.

The overall aim of this project is to get a deeper insight into the private rental market and the situation of tenants in relation to land formalization projects and to participatory upgrading projects in unplanned settlements in urban Tanzania. By conducting case studies of these processes it is possible to enrich the theories on the positive and negative consequences of formalization of land as well as of participatory forms of upgrading. The results can contribute to policy making. Pragmatic reasons such as where projects are ongoing will decide city and settlements to be chosen as case study.

[i] de Soto , H. 2000: The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else. Bantam Press, London

[ii] Payne G., Alain Durand-Lasserve, Carole Rakodi (2009) The limits of land titling and home ownership. Environment and Urbanization, 2009 (21)

[iii] United Nations Millennium Project, 2005: A Home in the City, Task Force on Improving the Lives of Slum Dwellers, London

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