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Rent Control back to drawing board

Rent Control back to drawing board

The Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Hon Tjekero Tweya said this week that the rent control board relies on old legislation that will have to be updated.

The definition of what constitutes “reasonable rent” will also be changed. Tweya said, “specifically when one reviews the 7.5% which is defined as interest which the building societies may charge on mortgage bond loans.”

A government directive to regulate the rental market and prevent the exploitation of tenants by landlords produced eighty nine resolutions adopted by the Special Cabinet Committee on Land Related Matters (SCCLRM).

This outdated legislation in the form of a Rent Ordinance, Tweya said, means that the President must assign the functions of the Ordinance to a Minister to make appointments for persons to serve as members and secretaries to the Rent Boards.

Of pariticular interest, Resolution 61, tasked yhe Government through the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development to find a suiting legal framework. The ministry identified the outdated Rent Ordinance Act as the most suitable legislation to effectively regulate rent control.

However should the act not be changed, any decision that has to be taken pertaining to the administrative functions of the ordinance will be made by the five members of Cabinet designated for the rent control board.

Tweya’s announcement regarding rent control follows the trade ministry’s decision to request nominations for persons to serve as members and secretaries to the Rent Boards from institutions such as Local Authorities, Shack Dwellers Associations, the Magistrates’ Commission, the National Youth Council and the Affirmative Repositioning movement.

This initiated a process to provide guidelines for the Rent Boards by focusing on the drafting of a Rent Bill which will take into account the current Namibian constitution and the varied social and economic standing of citizens.

“The outcome of this work was that the Ordinance [was found] to be an obsolete [piece of] legislation which, if applied in its current form, will render the work of the rent boards of no force or effect.” Tweya said.

Using the outdated Ordinance as a legal tool in its current form means that the Rent Control Bill will not take into consideration the different rent control conditions for Windhoek, Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, Oshakati and Rundu among other factors such as regional and international benchmarks on affordable housing.

“Before independence, it made sense for an Executive Committee to preside over matters pertaining to the Ordinance but in an independent Namibia, there are systems and processes in place which are equally capable to administer and implement the Ordinance. Thus section 2 has to be amended to vest the executive power to establish Rent Boards in an existing and legally recognised functionary of the executive” he said.

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