MPs allow landlords to charge rent in dollars

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The chairperson Physical Infrastructure Committee, Robert Kafeero Ssekitoleko

The chairperson Physical Infrastructure Committee, Robert Kafeero Ssekitoleko on Wednesday presented a report on the Landlord and Tenants Bill 2018.

The Landlord and Tenant Bill, 2018 seeks to: regulate the relationship between the landlord and tenant, reform and consolidate the law relating to letting of premises, provide for the responsibilities of landlords and tenants in relation to the letting of premises.

Currently, there is no comprehensive law regulating the landlord-tenant relations.

The Rent Restrictions Act and the Distress for Rent Act, cover limited aspects of the landlord and tenant relationship.

There is lack of proper regulation of the relationship and hence disharmony, Hon Ssekitoleko said.

The Committee noted that while the object of the Bill is to regulate the relationship between landlords and tenants, the bulk of its provisions are skewed heavily in favour of the tenants at the expense of the landlords.

Clause 6(b) of the Landlord and Tenant Bill seeks to impose an obligation on the landlord to ensure that premises are kept fit for human habitation during tenancy but does not envisage circumstances where the tenant negligently damages the premises.

The Committee re-echoed the resounding call to enact the landlord and tenants law which balances interests of tenants and landlords.

“The committee is cognizant of the current practice of charging rent in United States dollars and inconveniences of converting Ugandan shillings to dollars,” Ssekitoleko noted.

He said tenants perceive the use of the dollar as a ruse by landlords to raise rent but he noted that compelling landlords to charge rent in shillings is “unfair and unreasonable”.

He agreed with landlords that due to foreign currency fluctuations, paying rent in dollars could also help owners of buildings survive in a harsh economic environment.

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