By Timothy Ngnenbe
The National Tenants Association of Ghana (NATAG) has declared its intention to go to the Supreme Court to seek interpretation of Section 25 (5) of the Rent Act of 1963, and Section 19 (2) of the Rent Control Law of 1986.
The association has also called on Parliament to expedite action on the processes to pass the reviewed rent control bill into law.
The National Secretary of NATAG, Mr Eric Opoku, in an interview with the Daily Graphic, said the current rent law, which barred landlords from taking more than six months’ rent advance, had been grossly abused.
“Even the executive and legislative arms of government have breached Section 25 (5) of the Rent Act through the payment and receipt of four years’ rent allowance by Ghanaian legislators. We want to seek interpretation as to whether it is proper for parliamentarians to continue to receive four years’ rent advance even though it is clearly stated under the Rent Act that tenants should not pay more than six months’ rent advance.”
“We are calling for it to be reviewed immediately because the more it delays, the more tenants continue to suffer injustice from landlords,” he said.
NATAG has since 2013 advocated the review of the Rent Act of 1963, citing abuse of the law by landlords.
The association also blamed the executive and legislative arms of government for breaching the Rent Act through the payment and receipt of four years’ rent allowance by the legislators.
The Parliamentary Select Committee on Works and Housing responded by saying that the four-year rent allowance amounting to GH¢50,000 that was given to each of the 275 legislators did not constitute a breach of the Rent Act, since the allowances were not paid directly as rent advance.
The Chairman of the committee, Mr David Tetteh Asumin, said on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show on January 29, 2015 that Parliament did not rent houses for its members, but rather paid rent allowances.
Mr Opoku observed that the imbalance between the demand and supply of housing units in the country had given landlords the opportunity to exploit tenants through the charging of exorbitant rent and taking of rent advance for up to three years.
He, therefore, called for the strengthening of the Rent Control Department, the body under the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing mandated with the responsibility to solve rent disputes between tenants and landlords.
According to him, the government ought to roll out a social housing policy that would address the over 1.7 million housing deficit in the country rather than the affordable housing policy being espoused by government.
He contended that affordability was relative to people of different social classes and that social housing would be the best way to help the poor in society.