Tue | Dec 7, 2021

Government to expand powers of Rent Assessment Board

Published:Thursday | May 6, 2021 | 12:05 AM

The Government is taking steps to amend the Rent Restriction Act, which will provide guidelines for the use and refund of security deposits, bring the recovery of possession under the ambit of the Rent Assessment Board, as well as address the vexed issue of notice to quit.

The current legislation does not make provision for the collection and use of security deposits, which has become a standard practice.

Minister of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change Pearnel Charles Jr said the recovery of possession was dealt with by the parish courts.

However, with complaints of an inordinate waiting time for the courts to hear the matters, Charles said that the amendment would allow for the expansion of the powers of the Rent Assessment Board to hear issues relating to the recovery of possession.

In his contribution to the Sectoral Debate, Charles said it was noted that, in many instances, tenants leave owing several months’ rent, which has a negative impact on landlords who rely on the intake from rental as one of their sources of income.

LONG-STANDING COMPLAINT

“It is being proposed that owners, under the proposed amendments, will be able to use their intention to sell the property as a valid reason for a notice to quit for a tenant. This has been a long-standing complaint of landlords,” the minister noted.

Charles indicated that the bill would be submitted to Cabinet for consideration and approval for tabling in Parliament before the end of the current legislative year.

Turning to the environmental legislative framework, Charles said that his ministry would also pursue amendments to the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) Act during the 2021-22 parliamentary year.

The proposed amendments will address issues related to fines and offences, revocation of permits and licences issued by the NRCA, contaminated lands and remediation, criteria for environmental impact assessments, and performance bonds, among others.

The ministry will also finalise amendments to the Wild Life Protection Act this financial year. The proposed amendments to the law will include provisions to regulate invasive and potentially invasive species, increase fines and penalties, and address flora, as the legislation currently only covers fauna.

Further, the ministry will be pursuing the promulgation of regulations under the NRCA Act to govern environmental impact assessments.

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