Public Relations Officer of the Rent Control Department, Emmanuel Hovey Kporsu, says landlords are not mandated by law to take more than six months rent from prospective tenants.
Speaking on JoyNews’ The Law he explained that there are two types of tenancy, long and short, all which require different payment systems.
For short tenancy, he explained that, landlords are expected to take a months rent advance, however, they cannot break the contract and expect tenants to pay more than the agreed month.
“When it comes to short tenancy, you can sign an agreement with someone that ‘I will be taking monthly rent advance from you’. If you sign that agreement and now you go sideways and say ‘I have taken monthly for the first three months, now I am coming to take two months. this constitutes an offence if it comes to the short tenancy.”
For long tenancy, Mr Kporsu explained that regardless of how long the landlord agrees the prospective tenant can stay in his or her house for, he or she can only take six months rent in advance.
“You can sign an agreement with somebody for one year, two years, three years and above but when it comes to the payment you are not supposed to demand or even collect. So if you sign five years tenancy agreement and you come and demand seven months advance from the prospective tenants, you commit an offence.”
These actions of the landlords, he explained, goes against Section 25 Subsection Five of the Rent Act.
Section 25 (5) of the Act states that “Any person who as a condition of the grant, renewal or continuance of a tenancy demand in the case of a monthly or shorter tenancy, the payment in advance of more than a month’s rent or in the case of a tenancy exceeding six months, the payment in advance of more than six months rent, shall be guilty of an offence and upon conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding 500 penalty units which is equivalent to 600cedis or a term of imprisonment not exceeding two years.”
Mr Kporsu added that based on the discretion of the rent magistrate the two punishments can be combined, so one can be fined as well as be imprisoned.
He stated that it is required by law for landlords to give tenancy agreement to prospective tenants to examine it and ascertain whether they agree to abide by the provisions.
“Of course you have to take into consideration the universal declaration of human rights, you have to take into consideration our constitution under section 12 (2) where it takes about our human right and freedom. You have to take into consideration some of the provisions we have in the rent act so that you don’t infringe on someone’s right.”
He said that it is the reason for which landlords are to register the agreement with the Rent Control Department within 14 days of entering into the lease, so they could inspect and determine the agreement does not infringe on the tenant’s life.
“If you haven’t done this the law demands that you don’t have any right to demand any rent advance from anybody.”
The agreement will protect both landlords and tenants as it spells out the obligations of both parties, duration of tenancy among others.
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