Harare City Council says it is worried with the number of houses that have been turned into offices, lodges and brothels and will soon launch investigations with a view to shutting them down.
This follows complaints of massive accommodation shortage in the capital leading to landlords raising rentals.
Many houses around the city centre, meant for residential purposes, in suburbs like Milton Park, Eastlea, Belgravia and Avondale, have been converted into offices and other facilities while unlicenced creches have mushroomed in high-density areas.
Investigations by NewsDay last year unearthed that many houses that had ostensibly been transformed into beauty parlours in the city had actually become brothels.
Councillor Pumulani Musagwiza said: This thing should discontinue. We are escalating shortages of accommodation ourselves because we are converting homes into offices. Most of the buildings have been turned into crches and offices.
Councillor Panganayi Charumbira complained about houses being converted to brothels.
It shows there are people with many houses that can afford turning others into business premises.
Some houses are being turned into brothels and families in that area will be affected, he said.
Deputy mayor Emmanuel Chiroto said the housing department was not well equipped to enforce by-laws.
Other councillors said people were engaging in pre-school business because the Ministry of Education was failing to accommodate pupils in early learning institutions.
The Zero Grade classes introduced to schools only take two classes with a total of 30 pupils. This is the cause of the mushrooming crches in most suburbs, said Councillor Urayayi Mangwiro.
Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda said the chaos was a result of the inherited mess from previous councils.
We inherited a messy situation where people have been doing all sorts of things with impunity, he said.