Rent Tribunal officer vows to reinforce Act
Tuesday, July 03, 2012
The principal officer of the Brikama Rent Tribunal has spoken tough on issues surrounding rent and tenancy in the West Coast Region, vowing to reinforce to the letter the existing Rent Tribunal Act, with a view to ensuring a fair and just business.
Momodou Camarain an interview with theDaily Observerwarned tenants and landlords to comply with the Act or else face the full force of the law.
existing Rent Tribunal Act, Section 18 (1) reads that any landlord or tenant
may after a period of two years from the registration of a standard rent in
respect of a property, apply in writing to a Tribunal to vary the standard rent
fixed for that property.
On the other hand, the prohibition on advance rent, Section 22, sub-section (1) of the Rent Tribunal Act reads that no landlord shall make it a requirement or condition of granting, continuing or renewing a tenancy that rent shall be paid before the beginning of the rent period: Provided that where a tenancy is granted on the basis of a monthly payment of rent, the landlord may require a tenant to pay a month's rent before the beginning of the rental period. A landlord who contravenes sub-section (1) commits an offence.
words of Camara, his office is inundated with numerous cases forwarded by both
the tenants and the landlords; a situation he said makes their work so
cumbersome. He was quick to disclose that 60% of the tribunal's major problems
arise from the issue of rent arrears; in that many tenants have the problem of
settling their debts.
“This eventually accumulates into a huge debt, which prompts the landlords to report the matter to our office for action. Also, the demand for houses for rent is much higher than what is available. This is as a result of the rural-urban drift,” the Rent Tribunal officer indicated.
how they settle the various cases forwarded to their office, Camara saidthe first step that they do with such
matters is to enhance negotiation between the two parties before going in for
any law enforcement.
“In such circumstances,” he added, “the law gives the tenant a certain reasonable time to settle his or her arrears before the law takes its course. But if the initial attempts fail then the tenant will no doubt face the Tribunal Court, where a warrant is signed and the person is taken to the central prison.”
admonishing tenants to desist from occupying houses which rental fee they
cannot afford, Camara equally challenged the landlords not to charge exorbitant
fees beyond the reach of an average Gambian’s monthly earnings.
“This is our country and we all know
the monthly wages of the average Gambian,” he stated, pointing out that some
landlords use the advantage of the high demand for housing to randomly increase
rental fees. “People need houses to occupy so as to enable them run their
day-to-day activities. Many of these tenants are family members and have a lot
of domestic responsibilities rest on their shoulders,” he asserted.
landlords to be reasonable in their dealings, Camara strongly warmed them not
to make any increment for a rental property without sending a written increment
application to the Tribunal for a way out. At this juncture, he enjoined the
tenants not to accept any increment from any landlord without a formal letter
of increment from the Tribunal.
Tribunal officer explained that their office has staff mandated to monitor the
conditions of houses to determine the necessary cost to be attached to each
under rental. He also raised concerns over those landlords who failed to
register their compounds to the Tribunal, a situation he described as a source
of cheating the government of The Gambia.
Camara disclosed that their findings indicated that over 50% of the landlords failed to register their properties to the Tribunal, a state of affairs he strongly deplored. He stressed that whoever is letting his or her houses for rent is doing a business, thus an obligation for that particular landlord to register with the Tribunal.
He concluded by advising the landlords who failed to register their housesto do so, warning that failure to comply will tantamount to a fine not exceeding D5000 or two years imprisonment or both.
Author: Sheriff Barry