Uganda initiates Landlords and Tenants Law
A government-initiated Bill has been embarked on to regulate the relationship between Landlords and Tenants.
The law will reduce forceful evictions and destruction of lives and property and create a conducive environment for increased economic investment in the Housing Sector as well as increase security of tenure for occupants, says Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, the Minister of State for Housing, Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development.
The Landlords and Tenant Bill, 2018, seeks to reform and consolidate the law relating to the letting of premises as well as balancing the responsibilities of Landlords and Tenants in relation to letting of premises and for related matters.
The Bill that has already been approved by Cabinet, will now be printed and gazetted as the Landlord and Tenant Bill, 2018, in the Uganda Gazette, then tabled before Parliament for debate and enactment into law and then implementation.
After enactment and assent to the Landlord and Tenant law, we shall commence implementation with financing by the Government of Uganda. Funds for its public awareness and implementation have been budgeted for, says Dr. Baryomunsi.
Dr. Baryomunsi says the reasons that have necessitated the new law include charging of rent in foreign currency, poor quality of rentable premises that lack the minimum infrastructure standards and obsolete laws relating to the rental housing subsector.
Uganda has old and obsolete laws governing the rental housing subsector. These laws include the Rent Restriction Act (Cap 231) of 1959 and the Distress for Rent (Bailiffs) Act, Cap 76 of 1933.
Other reasons are that tenants lack privacy and have a high defaulting rate in rent and utilities while the landlords remain reluctant to rent their premises to vulnerable groups which they consider as “risky groups. There is also poor maintenance of rental premises and a unilateral increase of rent and arbitrary house evictions.
Now the Landlords and Tenant Bill, 2018, has new obligations for both the Tenants and Landlords and eases arbitration in case of disputes.It also provides for lawful eviction of the tenant only through a Court order.
It makes it mandatory for the Parties to execute a Tenancy Agreement in writing in order to document and provide a framework for their relationship and requires that in making the Agreement, the tenant provides a National Identity or Alien Identification card for non-citizens.
It mandates the tenant to pay a security deposit in advance as a safeguard against any damages to the premises, to pay rent for premises, pay for the utilities and other charges, utilize the premises only for the intended use, keep the interior of the premises in good and clean condition, to avoid doing anything that would be a nuisance to inconvenience others, and not to sublet any part of the premises without the knowledge of the Landlord.
The Landlords and Tenant Bill, 2018 now provides a framework for the Landlord to increase or decrease rent only after serving the tenant with a prior notice to which the tenant has to respond and provides for termination of tenancy by either party by giving a notice of the intention to terminate the tenancy.
It also requires the Landlord to provide rentable premises fit for human habitation, payment of property rates and relevant taxes, keeping the exterior of the premises in good condition. It apportions repair obligations to the parties and provides payment of rent in Uganda Shillings in accordance with other laws and gives exception only with mutual agreement between the parties.
The Landlords and Tenant Bill, 2018 also provides for an alternative dispute resolution mechanism, failure to which, parties are free to seek redress from any competent Court of Law.
The law is expected to enable Landlords and Tenants to know their roles and obligations regarding rentable premises and to create alternative dispute resolution for the two parties to settle conflicts.