UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | Evictions of tenants happen for a variety of reasons, but failure to pay rent is the most common. Even the most well-intentioned tenants may struggle to pay rent occasionally, particularly in these times of COVID-19.
In a speech last year, President Yoweri Museveni appealed to landlords not to evict their tenants during the lockdown period and to defer rentals due. However, this was a recommendation, not an order, with no force of law.
One Real Muloodi landlord who stepped up to the appeal was Mr Haruna Ssentongo, one of Kampala’s major property tycoons. The Real Muloodi generously forgave the rent for 520 of his tenants at Segawa Market for the three months they spent without working. He said the gesture was part of his efforts to help his tenants recover from COVID-19 financial constraints. He further offered new tenants 3 free months to give them a chance to settle in.
Another Real Muloodi and Kampala’s biggest landlord, Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia, offered a similar campaign in October 2020 and January 2021. Through his real estate property conglomerate, Crane Management Services, he offered Ugandans looking to start a new business in the city a free three-month rent grace period in six of his top city buildings. He aimed his campaigns at fostering the development of Uganda’s economy, and to allow startup and small-scale businesses to thrive, despite the COVID-19 challenges.
President Museveni re-imposed some lockdown measures on June 6 that include the closure of schools, the shutdown of weekly open markets, suspension of church services, and a ban on inter-district travel to help beat back another surge in COVID-19. Today, he announced Uganda is tightening its lockdown measures even more to stem the surge in coronavirus infections, to include a ban on private and public transportation within districts, a stricter curfew time of 1900Hrs to 0530 Hrs, and a closure of non-essential businesses for 42 days.
If you have tenants who cannot pay rent because of loss of income from work or school closures, healthcare costs, or reasonable expenditures related to COVID-19, Spectrum Real Estate Solutions suggests you work with your tenants to avoid a situation where rent is no longer paid at all. This is the worst-case scenario and problematic for both parties. A better solution may be a slight reduction in rent to help your tenants who are struggling or have lost their jobs, while affording you some income, rather than no income at all.
Some landlords who are struggling financially themselves may consider evicting their tenants in favour of gaining paying ones. However, given the current financial climate, you may find you are not in the best position to find new tenants right now. Therefore, it is in your mutual benefit to be open to working something out.
Furthermore, selling in the current market may mean you are likely to take a hit with the price of your property.
Instead, Spectrum encourages landlords to:
- Update landlord insurance
- Speak to your bank about getting a mortgage holiday
- Offer small rent reduction if your tenant is jobless
- Consider a line of credit
- Avoid selling if you can
If eviction is still the path you wish to choose, you must know the proper rules and procedures before beginning the eviction process.
The Parliament of Uganda passed the Landlord Tenant Act on the 26th of June, 2019. The Act defines the responsibilities of landlords and tenants regarding the letting of premises and related matters, including eviction.
According to Spectrum Real Estate Solutions, consider the following before evicting your tenant:
Understand Uganda’s Landlord and Tenant Act
In Clause 49, the landlord faces a one-year prison sentence or a penalty equivalent to three months’ rent payable, or both, if convicted of unlawful eviction of a tenant. The law permits evicting a tenant who does not follow the terms of the tenancy agreement. However, unless otherwise specified in the tenancy agreement, the landlord must give a tenant a six-month notice to vacate the premises.
Issue a Formal Notice of Eviction and Avoid Taking Things into Your Own Hands.
To have the law on your side, you must strictly adhere to these rules and ensure that you do not give the authorities any reason to doubt that you are an outstanding law-abiding citizen.
One of the most critical steps to take if your tenant has been uncooperative is to provide an adequate eviction notice.
Eviction Notice Suggestions
- There must be a deadline (date) to “pay rent or move out.”
- It must contain the amount owed (including all fees)
- You must post this notice within X number of days.
Evict a Tenant for a Valid Reason
To begin the eviction procedure, you must have a valid reason. The following are valid causes for eviction:
- Failure to pay rent under the lease agreement
- Infringing on a tenancy agreement.
- Causing property damage.
- If the tenant is causing health and safety problems. Keep in mind that you will need written proof of any claim against your tenant.
Besides being costly, evictions are burdensome and consume unnecessary time and energy. For a successful eviction, a landlord must always stay on the right side of the law.
However, keep in mind the current crisis will eventually pass. We’re all going to take a hit from this and it’s time for everyone to come together and help each other.
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