Dr. Joseph Muvawala
 

 

The executive director the National Planning Authority (NPA), has blamed members of parliament for passing the Tenants Bill 2018, without the input of his agency.

Dr. Muvawala is skeptical whether President Yoweri Museveni will assent to the Act so that it becomes law to be used in settling disputes between tenant and their landlords.

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“I hope the president does not sign it. How can somebody stay in a house without paying rent and the landlord has to wait for another six months in court to evict them,” he said of the legislation that has received disapproval from various stakeholders.

Are our regulations transformative? We have the Tenants Bill, Sugar Bill and now the Coffee Bill…They don’t address the transformative aspect,” he said.

NPA, among others, is mandated to plan for the country’s development agenda and is at the forefront of spearing the National Development Plan.

The official was speaking yesterday at the Seventh Economic Forum organised by the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU) at Imperial Resort Beach Hotel, Entebbe, Wakiso district.

Parliament last month passed the bill, with several amendments which relate to duties and rights of landlords and tenants in rented commercial and residential premises.

Among the key provisions is that landlords and tenants must sign tenancy agreements for rent transactions of over Shillings 500,000 with clear terms and conditions.

Also, tenancy disputes shall be handled in local council court and other courts of law. It also states the landlords can only evict tenants after securing court orders to do so.

Unlawful evictions attract a penalty of Shs5 million or jail term of one year or both upon conviction.  MPs also approved the provision that landlords must give tenants an eviction notice of six months.

However, the most controversial provision is that all rent shall be settled and recorded in Shillings, contrary to the initial proposal that parties can agree to transact in any other currency in the agreement.

The Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Minister, Amelia Kyambadde and Health State Minister, Sarah Opendi clashed on the floor with the General  Duties State Minister in the Finance Ministry, Gabriel Ajedra over the issue.

Minister Ajedra argued that the law shouldn’t restrict transactions in Shillings alone because  some tenants such as foreign embassies pay landlords in foreign currency, a proposal that was squarely rejected.

However, Kyambadde and Opendi led the group of MPs who shot down Ajedra’s proposal

Tororo North County MP, Annet Nyakecho, Bokora County MP, Terence Achia Naco and Guster Mugoya, the Bukooli North County also  supported Kyambadde on the need to restrict rent transactions in Shillings.

Some of the provisions that have been deleted in the Bill include repealing the Distress for Rent (Bailiffs) Act, 1976. The Lands Minister, Betty Amongi explained that the Uganda Law Reform Commission advised government against abolishing the Act because it has been used by landlords to recover rent from defaulting tenants.

Amongi lauded MPs for passing the Bill, which was first mooted in 2012 and subjected to consultations involving landlords, tenants, property developers.

The Bill was tabled before parliament February this year.  The bill now awaits presidential assent but analysts say Museveni is unlikely to sign it but instead push it back to parliament for improvement.

 

 

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