Tenants Union calls for passage of Rent Bill 2022 before parliamentary dissolution

The National Tenants’ Union of Ghana is urging Parliament to pass the Rent Bill 2022 before the 8th Parliament is dissolved.

Frederick Opoku, Secretary-General of the union, emphasized the dire situation faced by both tenants and indigenous businesses due to landlords’ rampant disregard for the Rent Act of 1963.

Section 25(5) of the Act which prohibits landlords from demanding more than six months of rent in advance, yet many landlords flout this regulation.

The Rent Control Department, tasked with ensuring compliance, has been criticized for its inaction, which has allowed landlords’ exploitative practices to persist.

“Renting a place to do business in Ghana is currently very expensive. Landlords unlawfully demand extra charges, called ‘Goodwill,’ for leasing properties for 10-15 years without giving a receipt to the tenant,” Mr. Opoku alleged.

The Tenants’ Union highlighted that in prime areas such as Osu, Labone, Ridge, Airport, and Spintex, commercial tenants are being forced to pay illegal, non-refundable charges ranging from $45,000 to $70,000 (GHC 675,000 to 1,050,000).

The Union described such practice as a clear violation of the Rent Act and PNDC Law 138 (1986).

The Ghana Statistical Service’s 2022 report revealed a housing deficit of 2 million units, a problem compounded by the failure of successive governments to implement effective housing policies.

Existing policies have often overlooked the informal majority, who make up 65% of the population and are in desperate need of accommodation, instead favoring the formal sector, which comprises only 5%.

The Rent Bill 2022 was approved by the cabinet in November 2022 and submitted to Parliament, but there has been no progress for over 15 months.

With only six months remaining before Parliament dissolves, Opoku and his coalition are urging lawmakers to prioritize and fast-track the Rent Bill’s passage.

They argue that passing this Bill will provide much-needed relief to tenants by limiting rent advance payments to a maximum of one year, compared to the current practice of demanding payments for three to five years.

“We appeal to the Speaker, the Majority and Minority Caucuses, and the Housing Committee of Parliament to prioritize and fast-track the Rent Bill. The same energy used in passing the LGBTQ+ bill should be applied to ensure the Rent Bill is passed and assented to by the President before this 8th Parliament recesses in December 2024,” Opoku asserted.

The Union warns that failing to pass the Bill in this session would mean restarting the entire legislative process.

They are calling on constituents in all 276 constituencies to petition their Members of Parliament, emphasizing that the passage of the Rent Bill is a critical issue that will influence their votes in the upcoming December elections.

By: Nancy Oye Tanihu | Metrotvonline.com | Ghana

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