Minister of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change, Pearnel Charles Jr, says a Bill to amend the Rent Restriction Act is expected to be tabled in Parliament by the end of this fiscal year.
“We’re in receipt of the third draft Bill, which we have reviewed, and it is our intention to issue further drafting instructions to the chief parliamentary counsel by the end of this month, so we anticipate that this Bill will be tabled in Parliament by the end of the 2020/2021 fiscal year,” the minister said.
Charles Jr said that amending the Rent Restriction Act is a significant element of the Government’s thrust towards developing a robust housing policy while providing adequate housing solutions.
“The Government is seeking to update the Rent Restriction Act to strengthen the outdated provisions and to introduce new provisions that will allow for it to better manage the relationship between landlords and tenants. The Act will create a very cogent legal framework for the operations of the property rental industry in Jamaica,” the minister explained.
“Many persons will rent property because they choose to and do not wish to buy. Some persons will rent because they have to and cannot buy, and some persons will rent until they can afford to buy. Therefore, a viable rental industry serves as a significant transition and option for persons to access safe, legal and affordable housing,” he noted.
The Rent Restriction Act was first passed in 1944 and marked the birth of the Rent Assessment Board. Since then there have been 11 amendments, the last being done 37 years ago in 1983.
“Without a doubt, there is a need for us to update the reform of the legislation for it to align with the current realities we face within Jamaica. The amendments that are being proposed in the Bill are very practical and will deal with issues that have been steady nuisances between landlords and tenants, such as arrears in rent, damage to property, unpaid utility bills, harassment and insufficient notice to quit,” Charles said.
The minister noted that the Bill will also propose another avenue for dealing with the issue of recovering possessions.