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Govt. tables Bill to stop rent in dollars

Government has presented a proposal prohibiting landlords from charging rent in foreign currency for residential and business premises.

The proposal is one of the several contained in the Landlord and Tenant Bill, 2018, which seeks to regulate the relationship between landlords and tenants; and to reform and consolidate the law relating to the letting of premises.

The Minister of State for Housing, Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, presented the Bill during the plenary sitting of Parliament on Wednesday, 16 January 2019.

According to Clause 23 (1) of the Bill, “The rent payable for any premises under a tenancy shall be determined by mutual agreement of the parties to the tenancy.”

The Bill adds in Clause 23 (2) that “all rent obligations or transactions shall be expressed, recorded and settled in the shilling, unless otherwise provided under any enactment, or is lawfully agreed to between the parties to an agreement under any lawful obligation.”

Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga chaired the plenary sitting, and referred the Bill to the House Committee on Physical Infrastructure for consideration.

In 2017, traders under Kampala City Traders Association (Kacita) threatened to protest over the continued charging of rent in US dollars by landlords. The traders met Speaker Kadaga, who promised to engage government to present a Bill to regulate the relationship between the two parties.

The Landlord and Tenant Bill, 2018 requires that a landlord gives a tenant a 90 days’ notice before increasing rent payable, which increase will not be permissible at intervals of less than twelve months.

The Bill will also require a mutual agreement by a landlord and tenant on the amount of rent payable for the rented premises.

The Landlord and Tenant Bill, 2018 seeks to provide for the responsibilities of the two parties in relation to the letting of premises and prohibits landlords demanding that a tenant pays rent for more than three months in advance, where a tenancy is more than one month.

Possession of a national identification card will be one of the requirements for persons intending to rent residential and business premises.

The Parliament Rules of Procedure give sectoral committees up to 45 days to consider bills referred to them.

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