KAMPALA – Ms. Betty Amongi Akena the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development has Friday, July 5 clarified on a number of provisions for clarity and better understanding by the stakeholders and the general public in the tenant-landlord bill at the Uganda Media Centre.
While addressing journalists, the minister said that ever since the passing of the tenant-landlord bill by Parliament on 26th June 2019, the public have continued to be given inaccurate and misleading information on some provisions of this bill.
According to Ms. Amongi, the six-month notice only applies to a tenant who has signed an agreement with the landlord for one year.
“If you have signed an agreement for one year and you want to leave before the one year has elapsed, you are mandated to give six-month notice,” she said.
The minister noted that termination of the agreement can be effected by both the landlord and tenant after a 6months notice under sections 37–43 where a number of circumstances under which termination of tenancy are provided for.
She further said that landlords can’t increase the rent beyond 10% per year as it is not fair to their tenants siting that some landlords hike the rent fees just to chase away their tenants.
She said, “Landlords can increase rent on certain circumstances, specified in the bill, if u have made improvements within a year, you can increase the rent, if circumstances have changed u can increase the rent, u cannot increase rent beyond 10% pa year, landlords increase rent to chase the tenants.”
Ms. Amongi noted that the tenants must clear all the rent arrears and must compensate the landlord for any damages if any before leaving.
“While that provision says that the landlord should give the tenant 6 months yearly notice in the case of yearly rent, there’s section 45 which clearly spells out that the tenant before leaving the premises must ensure that they clear all the rent, they have compensated for any damages and all that, therefore, the fear of the land lord is addressed under section 45,” she said.
On the issue of paying of rent in dollars, the minister said that there is no country world over that charges rent in foreign currency therefore rent should be paid in shillings.
“When these real estate developers are building they buy all construction materials from the local market and in local currency. The same should apply to rental fees,” Ms. Amongi remarked.
Ms. Amongi added that landlords protesting rent payment in the shilling are unpatriotic.
“I would like to appeal to the landlords not to distort the sovereignty of the shilling…Landlords should debate patriotically,” she said.
The Landlord and Tenant Bill, 2018 was read for the first time on 12th February 2019 by the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Betty Amongi and referred to the Committee on Physical Infrastructure for scrutiny.
While tabling the Bill, Amongi said that the bill was aimed at regulating the relationship between landlord and tenant for the orderly and sustainable development of the rental housing industry that is currently governed by the Rent Restriction Act Cap 231 and the Distress for Rent (Bailiffs) Act, Cap 76 which were enacted in 1949 and 1933 respectively.
The Minister said: “Evidently, the two laws are outdated and cover only limited aspects of the landlord and tenant relationship. Accordingly, the rental housing market has been largely left to the interplay of the market forces with very minimal government regulation. This has culminated into strenuous relationships between landlords and tenants characterized by arbitrary evictions and rental increments and the resultant effects such as strikes by tenants especially in the metropolitan areas causing disruptions in the rental housing industry and the economy as a whole.”
Clause 23(2) of the Bill provides that all rent obligations or transactions shall be expressed, recorded and settled in the shilling unless otherwise provided under any enactment, or is lawfully agree d to between the parties to all agreement under any lawful obligation.
Parliament also approved Clause 27 of the Bill that provides that a landlord shall not increase rent at a rate of more than 10% annually or such other percentage as may be prescribed by the Minister by statutory instrument with the provision intended to curb the rampant arbitrary and unconscionable rental increments in the country especially in relation to business tenancies.
Legislators also passed the provision that orders the landlords to give tenants a 90 days’ notice if they are to increase the rent to ensure that tenants can be given ample time to adjust and the increment shouldn’t be done in a space of less than twelve months from the previous increment.
The bill also contains the provision which stipulates that the landlord must give a tenant a six months’ notice if they want to vacate their buildings and have made it illegal for the landlord to forcibly evict a tenant.
The Bill further bars landlords from subjecting a tenant to any annoyance and whoever does so will be liable to a fine one hundred and fifty currency points approximately Shs3M or serve a jail term not exceeding one year or both.