Your Expat Guide to Housing in Zambia


Zambia has a wide range of housing options. However, for Expats on short term contracts, renting is the most viable option.

The majority of residential property dates back to the 1960s and 1980s and is in need of major refurbishment. Larger properties tend to be older, stand-alone housing with perimeter wall fence and entrance. Alternate, housing styles are apartments, flats and residential housing complexes.

When looking at a property, you should ask about the following major items:

  • Water — Does the property use a borehole, city water, or both?
  • Electricity — How frequent are blackouts? As of April 2015, Zambia has daily ‘load shedding’ due to limits on its power supply. On average the load – shedding is 6-8 hours a day and times vary dependent on the area. Is there a generator or some form of back up on the property?
  • Phone — Is the property wired for a landline? How is cell phone coverage in the area?
  • Crime — How safe is the area? Will there be a guard? If so, how often? Is there electric fencing?
  • Domestic help — Does the property come with maid service and/or a gardener? If so, how is their salary paid?
  • Pets – Are they accepted?
  • Responsibility of Payment – find out what exactly is included in the rent as some Landlords cover services in the rental such as maintenance, electricity, water, security, garden, land rates and pool maintenance and rubbish collection. However, some landlords will not and you will have to pay these separately in addition to your rentals.

Furnishings

Unless stated otherwise, properties in Zambia come empty, they have no appliances and no furniture. You can often talk to the landlord as to what is included in the property.

Rental Agreement

Before committing to a rental agreement, you should run it by a Zambian attorney prior to signing it, as expectations of the landlord-lease agreement in Zambia may differ from the expectations in your own country. A number of people in the past have been known to have difficulty getting deposits back, it is therefore advised that this is clearly stipulated in the agreement and any conditions that may result in it being withheld.

Rental periods do vary depending on housing type and area. However leases typically run for a minimum of one year.

Withholding Tax

In Zambia, tenants are required to deduct 10% of your rental amount and pay it directly to the Zambia Revenue Authority as a withholding tax.

The terms of payment should be explicitly stated in the rental agreement that you have with your landlord, and either your landlord or real estate agent should be able to advise you on how to pay the tax to ZRA.

Inspections

It is also advisable to physically visit the property, or to have someone reliable visit the property if you are not yet in the country; it is not advised that you rely on internet images/online correspondence as this may not be accurate. Finally, upon moving into a property it is advisable to take photos of the property before moving in so that there is a record of the state of the house and grounds upon your arrival.

Real Estate Agents

For a list of real estate agents, you can consult the list of real estate agents on infozambia.com.

Photo credit: Kamal H.CC BY-ND