Regional News of Saturday, 25 January 2014
The Rent Control Department has revealed that a new Rent Draft Bill would soon be placed before Parliament for approval.
Mr Addo Soin Dombo, Chief Rent Controller, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra, said Ghana’s Rent Act of 1963 (Act 220), which regulated the relationship between landlords and tenants, was outmoded and needed to be reviewed.
He said the new Draft Bill 2010 was in line with international standards, adding that the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing, in drafting the bill, involved experts from the United States, United Kingdom, India, South Africa and United Arab Emirates.
He said the Ministry would be organising stakeholders’ conference to deliberate on the draft bill before it is forwarded to Parliament for consideration and approval.
Mr Dombo expressed the hope that by the middle of this year Parliament should be in a position to pass the bill for Presidential assent.
He said under the current rent law, it was an offence for landlords to take rent advance in excess of six months, which was being flouted by many landlords adding that in the new draft bill this had been extended to one year.
Mr Dombo cautioned estate developers and landlords to stop charging rents in dollars as it constituted a criminal offence under the laws of Ghana.
He said the law required that landlords paid eight per cent of their annual rent income tax to the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and appealed to the GRA to collaborate with the Department to know the exact amount of money each landlord was supposed to pay as some landlords understated their rent income.
Mr Dombo said under section 25:1(c) of the Rent Act, agents were entitle to take five per cent of the rent paid from the landlord and not tenants, declaring that agents were only entitled to charge for services they rendered to tenants.
He advised landlords to investigate the background of their would-be tenants in order to avoid renting rooms to people with questionable lifestyles adding that tenants must also check the background of their landlords before hiring their facilities.
Mr Dombo urged landlords to issue tenants with rent cards within a week of occupying the facility and urged tenants to thoroughly inspect the premises to make sure it was their taste and not located in a flood prone area.
The Department, in 2013, was able to settle 30,456 out of 64,456 cases it received from landlords and tenants while 15,345 cases were referred to the courts for redress with 18,655 pending.
The number of cases recorded last year saw an increase of 32 per cent over 2012, which Dr Dombo attributed to the extensive publicity the Department embarked upon to educate landlords and tenants of their rights and responsibilities.