By Ramatoulie Jawo
Hon. Madi M.K. Ceesay, the National Assembly Member for Serekunda West, has pledged to introduce a Private Member Bill that will amend the Rent Act, 2014.
The proposed amendments to the Rent Act 2014 include provisions addressing the landlord’s responsibility to maintain habitable rental premises and the requirement for the landlord’s consent before a tenant sublets rental premises. Additionally, the bill seeks to specify rate intervals and conditions for rent increases, among other related matters.
In a discussion with Kerr Fatou, Hon. Ceesay outlined the objectives behind his proposed bill, emphasizing its focus on safeguarding the interests of tenants. He acknowledged the valuable services provided by landlords but stressed the need to consider tenants’ interests, citing the inadequacy of the 2014 Rent Act in adapting to evolving circumstances.
“The objective of the bill is to look at the interests of tenants, even though I am not underrating the efforts that landlords are offering because the service they are offering is very, very good. You can imagine if we don’t have people who put premises on rent, how many people will now have places to live. Their services are important and unavailable, but at least the Tenant’s interests have to be put into consideration. The 2014 Rent Act is not adequate; that is why I am coming up with this amendment, and times have changed,” Hon. Ceesay highlighted.
Hon. Ceesay highlighted the changing landscape since 2014, noting that the Act classified three thousand as low cost and anything above as high cost. He pointed out the inconsistency of requiring tenants paying higher rents to provide six months or a year in advance, and stated that the proposed amendments aim to alleviate this burden.
“Now, if you look at 2014 to date, things have changed. Now you can hardly find a room and a parlor for D3,000. It is inconsistent for a lot of tenants who are paying D5, 000 rent or D6,000 or D7,000 for them to pay six months in advance. This Bill will ease the burden on the tenants; therefore, the Act has raised the bar, ” Hon. Ceesay.
The bill also addresses issues such as the notice of vacation, introducing a three-month notice requirement in writing for landlords seeking tenants to vacate the premises. Hon. Ceesay expressed a desire to establish a rent authority to assess the value of rental premises but noted that constraints on the consultative fund prevented its inclusion in the bill.
“These are some of the things the Bill has come to address, and it would have been my wish is to really come up with a clause that can create a rent authority. So that those authorities will be tasked with the responsibility of assessing premises to determine whether they are really worth what is being asked as rent. If, for example, a landlord says I am giving my apartment for D10,000, the authority will check and see whether the place matches the amount. But unfortunately, the Private Member’s Bill cannot come out with anything that will have a cost on the consultative fund, so I cannot have that into the Bill because it would have cost,” Hon. Ceesay said.
When presenting the bill to fellow NAMs, Hon. Ceesay plans to urge the government to establish regulations for a rent authority. Despite expressing optimism about unanimous support from his fellow NAMs, he emphasized the non-controversial nature of the bill and called for their full support to benefit both tenants and landlords.
“This is to take care of both the tenants and the landlords, their interests are accommodated. I call on all my colleagues to give their full support to the Bill,” Hon. Ceesay urged his fellow NAMs.