Homes for rent in short supply


A combination of factors has led to a shortage of available rental units on Saipan. Several realtors on island are having a hard time looking for units for their clients.

For RE/MAX office manager Mable Ayuyu, they started experiencing a short inventory of home rentals and apartment rentals immediately following Typhoon Soudelor.

“We started with many families displaced, coupled with incoming groups including teams from [the Federal Emergency Management Agency], [Guam Power Authority], and other businesses flying in to assist in typhoon recovery. This created a large demand for immediate housing,” Ayuyu said.

Apartments being rented in bulk are also a factor in the shortage of available units.

Ayuyu said they have a wait list exceeding 50 people this month. They have also received 95 typhoon-related inquiries since Aug. 3, and this continues to increase.

This is the first time that they’ve experienced a shortage, she said.

“We try our best to find housing that is suitable for renters but there isn’t enough supply to keep up with the demand, especially following a major natural disaster. Many people are still without housing, opting to rent hotels,” Ayuyu said.

Del Benson of Marianas Living echoes the same sentiment. “We have a shortage of rental units on island.”

Benson said the shortage is because of the typhoon as well as the many people coming in related to the development of the island.

He added that he had about two dozen inquiries on units in the last two to three weeks. Even FEMA, he said, called him to inquire.

FEMA has been giving rental assistance to qualified individuals as part of their individual assistance due to Typhoon Soudelor.

This shortage is also recognized by Zenie Mafnas, Northern Marianas Housing Corp. deputy corporate director and State Led Disaster Housing Task Force state lead.

Mafnas said they have been coordinating with FEMA in order to identify available units for rent.

“We took our own landlord registry and we called about almost 200 landlords,” she said.

Out of the 200 that they were able to contact, only 34 units were said to be available.

“The shortage of rental resources is basically out of NMHC’s hands. The reality of it all is that we don’t have many landlords here [on] Saipan,” Mafnas said.

For the task force, Mafnas said they are focusing on rebuilding homes.

“What the Housing Task Force is also focusing on is just rebuilding homes. So that it’s a long-term solution for those that were damaged,” Mafnas said.

Frauleine S. Villanueva-Dizon | Reporter
Frauleine Michelle S. Villanueva was a broadcast news producer in the Philippines before moving to the CNMI to pursue becoming a print journalist. She is interested in weather and environmental reporting but is an all-around writer. She graduated cum laude from the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in Journalism and was a sportswriter in the student publication.

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