The Minister for Lands, Housing and Urban Development Betty Amongi Ongom has lashed out at landlords for fighting the Landlord and tenant bill out of ignorance.
Addressing journalists at the Uganda Media Centre on Friday, Amongi said that Landlords are fighting the bill because they have been cheating their clients.
“Since the passing of the Landlord/Tenant bill by Parliament on 26th June 2019, Landlords have come out and give inaccurate and misleading information on some provisions in this bill and we wish to make a clarification,” said Amongi.
The minister said that Landlords are greedy people who want to oppress the poor tenants yet the bill favours both parties.
“As a sovereign country, government is supposed to make laws that benefit all sides but not one side as landlords prefer.”
On the issue of paying rent in United States Dollars , the minister said that an expression of national sovereignty and in pursuit of macroeconomic development and stability, all countries globally developed or developing, entrench settlement of charges across all sectors in their local currencies.
Although landlords urge that they borrow in dollars to construct houses and therefore should be allowed to charge in dollars, the minister said it is not called for.
“All Ugandans who import goods from abroad (China, India, Dubai, Japan, Turkey) purchase using foreign currencies e.g. US Dollar, Euro, Yen, Renminbi, etc, however, they compute their price in Uganda shillings when they are transacting in Uganda,” she said adding that government finds it defeating for the landlords to oppose charging rent in Uganda shillings when the other sectors of the economy that depend on transactions in local currency are operating normally.
“Globally over 90 per cent of the economies charge rent in their local currencies as a best practice.”
On the issue of prohibiting the landlord from increasing rent above 10 per cent annually, Amongi said that it’s a global practice in which governments regulate landlords and tenants. She gave examples of countries like Germany, UAE, S. Africa, the USA, Canada and Asian countries that prohibit increasing rent rate more than 5 per cent in their regulations.
“In Germany for example, a landlord cannot increase rent above 4 per cent within four years; while, in the United Arab Emirates, landlords cannot increase rent by more than 4 per cent within a year. The rationale is based on the annual inflation rate of the countries. Therefore the role of government in stabilising the economy is of vital concern such that the housing sector does not increase inflation in the country,” she explained.
Other issues Amongi raised were;
Subjecting the tenant to annoyance by the landlord where she said that the bill is based on the principle that when someone rents a premise he/she should be given privacy and should enjoy peaceful occupation. “This provision is meant to protect the tenant from harassment by the landlord and it’s clearly defined in the law,” she noted.
When it comes to disputes between and landlord and tenants, according to Amongi, the bill permits the landlord and tenant to resolve their disputes through local council (LC) system as the first instance of dispute resolution.
“Also the existing distress for rent (Bailiffs) Act (Cap 76) has remained in force and gives the landlord a shorter legal mechanism of resolving the dispute. The Ministry will issue regulations to ensure that the professional code of conduct of the bailiffs respects the property rights of all parties,” she noted.
However, landlords are not contented with the bill and they have since threatened to write to President Yoweri Museveni so that he does not ascend to it.