• Sun. Jun 26th, 2022

UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi NewsThe Landlord and Tenant’s Bill was signed into law by President Museveni on June 9th. This follows years of tensions and disagreements between landlords and tenants in Kampala’s central business district, which only intensified in the face of economic pressures caused by COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns.

When tenants under Kampala Capital Traders Association (KACITA) appeared before Parliament’s Physical Infrastructure Committee last year as the Bill was being scrutinised, they insisted tenants have been exploited for a long time. They had looked to this law as an opportunity to address their plight.

The city traders pleaded with the Committee to solve the high utilities charges imposed on them, claiming some are charged as much as USh 800,000 per month by their landlords.

KACITA also campaigned for the law to protect tenants by reliving them of their rent obligations when emergency times are enacted. The traders reasoned that it’s unfair for tenants to pay rent when struck with disasters or other emergencies; case in point, the COVID-19 lockdowns that brought businesses to a standstill and closed shops.

However, the Bill that finally made its way into law has been met with disappointment from the city traders. While the law is designed to regulate the relationship between landlords and tenants and protect the interests of both parties, traders are complaining that it favours the landlords at their expense.

For example, the law includes a provision that allows the landlords to re-enter the tenant’s premises and confiscate their property to recover the unpaid rent claims, if the tenant defaults on rent payments over 30 days, so long as the action is taken in the presence of police and area Local Council officials.

The traders want the courts of law to be given the powers to permit landlords to take possession of tenant’s property and premises rather than the Local Council offices and police, who they allegedly say can be easily compromised by wealthy landlords.

Another provision in the law states that the landlord can increase rent fees by up to 10% a year, but only after issuing a notice of 60 days.

The traders also want the proposed 10% fee increment to be reduced to 2.5%. They add that it should be affected after every 5 years, to avoid distressing traders who are already struggling to recover their businesses from the Covid-19 crisis.

“We are going to write to the speaker of Parliament seeking for an amendment of such provisions that are likely to cause more strikes than harmonizing our relationship with the landlords as the government thought,” said Godfrey Katongole, Chairperson of Kampala Arcades Traders Association (KATA).

His opinion on the matter was supported by the Chairperson of the United Arcade Traders Entrepreneurs Association (UATEA), Edward Ntale, as well as the Chairperson of Kampala Arcades Advocacy Forum (KAAFO), Kate Hussein.

The traders are worried that such provisions of the law will be misused by the landlords, resulting in further disunity.

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