Overview of Rent Bill 2022

Overview of Rent Bill 2022

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The Rent Bill 2022, seeks to consolidate the law on rent, to reform the existing enactment on rent, remove housing constraints, offer incentives for private sector investments in housing, and maintain the protection of low income and vulnerable from abuse and arbitrary actions. 

The Rent Act, 1963 (Act 2020), has outlived its relevance, per the current population growth, housing availability, housing maintenance, the trend in technology advancement in the rental market, and other current issues. 

Also, the intervening law, the Rent Control Law, 1986 (PNDC L 138) failed to address the problems of rental accommodation, because landlords were constrained in the application of rent to reflect inflationary trends. 

Per the new bill, the powers of rent officers are dealt with in clause 6. A rent officer may require among others, the attendance of parties and witnesses and may examine them on oath or otherwise; enter and view or order the inspection of premises under consideration. 

Under clause 7, the appointment of other staff is catered for. It states that the President may in accordance with Article 195 of the Constitution appoint other employees, whose operations are necessary for the effective functioning of the Rent Managing Department. 

Regional and District Officers of the Rent Management Department are created under clause 8.

Clause 9-11 provides for the functions and procedures of a Rent Magistrate and also an assessment by a Rent Magistrate relative to the amount of recoverable rent of premises which may be subject to an appeal at the High Court. 

The National Rent Assistance Scheme which is to assist eligible individuals in the formal and informal sector with loans to enable them pay rent in advance is provided for under clauses 12-14. 

Clause 15-20 deals with the assessment of recoverable rent, and provides for reference by the Minister to the Rent Magistrate, to assess the amount of recoverable rent of premises. Also, an appeal for the variation of recoverable rent I provided for as well as factors that affect the assessment of recoverable rent. 

Clause 29-31 provides for compensation for improvement, control of sub-letting, prohibition of landlords from serving a notice to quit on tenants within two years after the date of the assessment order, or a decision of a rent officer, rent magistrate/court unless there has been an appeal. 

A tenant’s obligations are provided for in clauses 32-34. It states that a tenant is entitled to apply for an assessment of recoverable rent. Also, he/she is entitled to be compensated for any agreed improvements made to the premises, and be given one month’s notice before recoverable rent becomes payable after an assessment of recoverable rent has been made.

Also, it is the responsibility of a tenant to desist from using the premises for immoral or illegal purposes among others. Furthermore, the obligations of a statutory tenant, thus a tenant in possession are covered in clause 34. 

Clause 35-39 deals with general offences which include, the demand or receipt of more than the recoverable rent for the premises. It also talks about the offences by agents and servants and prohibits the demand of a premium. 

The drafting of this new bill follows a policy approval conveyed by Cabinet to the Ministry of Works and Housing for consideration by key stakeholders and then onward submission to Cabinet.