The Public Relations Officer of the Rent Control Department, Emmanuel Hovey Kporsu says landlords are barred from fixing rates without the express approval from an appropriate rent officer.
According to him, a landlord who decides to commercialise his premises, an application must be made to the Rent Control for an assessment to be conducted on the property.
Speaking to Host of The Law, Samson Lardy Anyenini, Sunday, Mr. Kporsu said the assessment assists in the determination of the amount a property owner shall charge his or her tenant.
“When it comes to mind that I want to get money out of this premises, I want to commercialise this premises, the first point of call is the Rent Control Department. From Section 10-19 of the Rent Act, talks about what is called an Assessment. The Assessment is when we come to your premises, look and see whether the place is tenantable. Look at the materials used, location, facilities, and this will aid us to come out with the rent or rate you have to charge your premises” he said.
The PRO for the Rent Control said that once the Assessment Certificate is issued to the landlord, he can advertise the premises for prospective tenants. Without an Assessment Certificate, the property owner cannot lease the premises.
There have been multiple reports of landlords and landladies arbitrarily increasing their rents every year with some threatening to evict their tenants should they fail to comply.
But Mr. Kporsu said that the Assessment of properties are done within a two-year interval and any landlord who charges unapproved rates will be dealt with in accordance with the stipulated laws in the Rent Act.
He also indicated that landlords who are unhappy with the assessment conducted on their properties may appeal to the Rent Magistrate for a review within seven days after the process.
Section 12(1) states that, “The landlord or tenant of any premises or a person interested in such premises may appeal to the appropriate Rent Magistrate, in the prescribed form, from the assessment by the appropriate Rent Officer of the amount of the recoverable rent of such premises within seven days after such assessment.”
Per the Rent Act 1963 (Act 220), the Rent Magistrate to whom an appeal has been made from an assessment of the appropriate rent officer shall have the power to refer any matter relating to such appeal for further investigation.
He is also clothed with the powers to vary the amount of the assessment in accordance with the provisions of the Rent Act.
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