By Sherry-Ann McGregor
In this our 50th year of Independence, we still have some archaic legislation among our laws bellowing for change.
Many of those legislation directly impact our commerce and the perception that justice is accessible to all persons. The Rent Restriction Act is on that list.
The Rent Restriction Act came into effect in 1944, and the last amendment in 1983 was intended to correct imbalances in the relationships between landlords and tenants. We have come full circle, and it is again time to amend the act to correct imbalances; many of which have been created by the very act and others which have arisen because there have been changes in social and economic conditions. Moreover, many of the provisions of the act, such as assessed rent, are routinely ignored.
A search on the Internet will highlight the fact that there have been proposed amendments to the act for several years. One article dating back to 2003 cited plans to amend the act to include the change in the name; and it was on the legislative agenda in 2005/2006 and again in 2007. Unfortunately, on none of those lists is it highlighted as one of the priority legislation.
On July 13, 2012, the Jamaica Information Service website stated: 'Rent Restriction Act to be amended' and it is followed by a report of the presentation in the House of Representatives by minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Dr Morais Guy, on July 10, 2012. As with previous articles on the topic, the stated objectives of the amendments include "reconciling the interests of landlords and tenants, thus ensuring that neither party is disenfranchised".
It is safe to presume that the desire to strike a greater balance between the protection of tenants and the landlord's rights may be achieved by the following objectives which date back to 2003, namely:
Please forgive my obvious lack of enthusiasm, but I will not hold my breath during this legislative year. We may need to adjust the objectives and conduct a further review to ensure that the proposed changes do not become archaic before the bill and The Rent Restriction Act go before the House of Representatives.
Sherry-Ann McGregor, partner and mediator, Nunes, Scholefield, DeLeon & Co. attorneys-at-law and notaries public, 6A Holborn Road, Kingston 10. Send feedback and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.