Landlords and tenants are being encouraged to make use of registration with the Rent Services Unit to benefit from protection under the Rent Restriction Act and the provisions proposed in a Bill to amend the Act.
“We are urging all Jamaicans to make use of the registration system and ensure that you register your premises and give information to the Rent Services Unit, whether you are a landlord or tenant,” said Minister of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., at a recent JIS Think Tank, where the proposed regulations to amend and support the Rent Restriction Act were discussed.
“The objective is to protect you and to ensure that we create and continue to have a system where the Rent Services Unit will have information, so they can operate and facilitate landlords and tenants making right decisions when it comes on to which premises they want to occupy and which persons they want to occupy the premises,” he added.
Mr. Charles Jr. said that registration will aid the Rent Services Unit in “creating that balance between protection, regulation and productivity”. He also noted that registration fees are being reviewed with stakeholders in mind.
“I don’t want the registration to be a shackle. Registration has to be something that serves to protect the landlord and protect the tenant and identify delinquency and is facilitative. When we talk about fees it is something we are considering as whether to raise or eliminate, depending on the mechanism that is used,” the Minister said.
“If we can find a way to minimise costs, so the burden is not excessive or less for the citizen while still achieving our goals, that’s where we need to move to. We need to move to the use of technology, so that we can ensure greater accuracy and increase the avenues to persons to be able to interact with the Rent Services Unit,” the Minister told JIS News.
The registration of premises and both landlords and tenants is a recommendation in the draft Bill to update the Rent Restriction Act and its provisions for landlords and tenants.
Director of the Rent Services Unit, Shenese Williams-Headlam, said that stakeholders have been engaged by the Unit to increase awareness about the Act, and engagement will continue to increase registration after the Bill is approved.
“Some people don’t realise that there is a Rent Restriction Act and there is a law that governs their roles. So, we have always been informing landlords and tenants about their rights and responsibilities and what the Rent Restriction Act says they can and cannot do. There are tenants who said they did not know their landlords shouldn’t increase the rent more than 7.5 per cent. So, some of these things are eye-opening for the persons we engage with. We have done consultations and we will also continue to do our public awareness going forward,” Mrs. Williams-Headlam said.