The Rent Restriction Act is to be amended, to provide effective regulation and clear guidelines as to the roles and obligations of tenants as well as landlords in the rental sector.
Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Hon. Dr. Morais Guy, made the disclosure during his contribution to the 2012/13 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives, on July 10.
He informed that the amendments will include: reconciling the interests of landlords and tenants, thus ensuring that neither party is disenfranchised; having rents at affordable levels; and instituting measures to yield a significant increase in the production of low and middle income housing to level the playing field.
Other proposed amendments include: decontrolling commercial rentals – as the demand for commercial space does not outweigh the supply of public and commercial rentals; setting minimum standard for the letting of premises; formulating a mechanism to determine the market value for properties; establishing efficient procedures for dealing with delinquent tenants; bringing the collection of Security Deposits under the ambit of the Act and having the Rent Tribunal adjudicate on all rent related cases, taking the burden off the Resident Magistrates Courts.
Coupled with the proposed amendments to the Rent Restriction Act, the Ministry is also taking steps to facilitate more regional sittings of the Rent Board.
"This entails the strategic appointment of suitable persons from the different regions to hear cases, while utilising space available at the regional Housing Offices, thus reducing the cost to the Ministry, as well as lessening the burden on plaintiffs and defendants to travel all the way into Kingston,” Dr. Guy said.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter