Rent Control Board a phantom
With the approaching deadline of 01 August 2016 to create a Rent Control Board as envisaged by the President Dr Hage Geingob, more confusion than clarity has engulfed the process.
The specific reference to a Rent Control Board was first mooted in the President’s State of the Nation address. The same mechanism then featured at a later stage during negotiations between the Office of the President and the Affirmative Repositioning movement. It was at one of these meeting that the 01 August deadline, now less than a month away, was set.
Following an extensive investigation by the Economist, it can now be stated that conflicting expectations exist between all parties who have in some way been summoned to review the escalating prices of rental property.
The implementation of rent control was announced by His Excellency, Dr Geingob, in a meeting with the leaders of the Affirmative Re positioning movement. In this announcement, it was agreed upon that the Prime Minister will, in line with section 33 of the Estate Agents Act 11/1976, summon the Estate Agents Board to review and address the escalating property prices before 1 August 2016. The act calls for the establishment of an Estate Agency Affairs Board and an Estate Agents Fidelity Fund; for the control of certain activities of estate agents in the public interest; and for incidental matters.
In a joint statement, both parties agreed to speed up the implementation of the Rent Control Board as set out in the Rent Ordinance 13/1977, which among other things will regulate rental prices as well as resolve any disagreements arising from rentals.
The Chairperson of the Estate Agents Board, Ms Anne Gebhardt, after being sent several questions about the advancement of the project or the difficulties experienced with the creation of a Rent Control Board, expressed her anger in a telephonic conversation saying “We are not in charge of creating a Rent Control Board and thus I can not answer any questions with regard to the challenges or practicalities of creating such a board.” She added that it is more likely that government institutions such as the Ministry of Trade and Industry, [will be tasked] to take charge of the creation of such a board.
The Estate Agents Act 11/1976, summarizes that the creation of the Estate Agents Affairs Board shall consist of fifteen members appointed by the Minister. The Minister shall appoint as members of the board, five members from the estate agents’ industry; five members from civil society, representing consumer interest; and five members from related professions and institutions such as the legal profession, financial institutions, property owners and developers. It is not clear whether rent control is deemed an estate agent’s affair and what the cooperation between the Estate Agents Affairs Board and the proposed Rent Control Board should be.
Attempts to find out under which ministry’s jurisdiction a Rent Control Board will fall, did not lead to any new or conclusive information. The Office of the Prime Minister failed to respond to questions on this matter.