Homes and Property
Know your rights as a tenant and as a landlord
Posted Wednesday, October 23 2013 at 00:00
“Cats and Mice”; That’s one of the best ways to describe the relationship between the landlord and the tenant. It is Important that each knows the rights they have for a better co-existance.
Being a tenant can be challenging not only because you have to part with a given amount of money at the end of every month but also because at times some landlords tend to treat their tenants like children.
However, being a landlord is also not an easy task because some tenants can be a pain in the neck. But, amidst all this, both parties are backed by the law.
Mr Naboth Muhairwe, a partner and practice manager at Agaba Muhairwe and Company Advocates states there are basically two documents that protect both the tenant and the landlord.
The Rent Restriction Act, a law which governs the landlord tenant relations in respect to rent. The other document is the Tenant’s Agreement, a contract between the landlord and the tenant who wants to live in the property for an agreed period of time and for an agreed payment.
Rights of a tenant
Muhairwe says these two entail that a tenant has a duty to pay rent and respect the terms and conditions under which the premises were rented out to them. “But they also detail the rights of a tenant.”
He explains, “The Rent and Restriction Act states conditions if which the tenant fulfills they cannot be evicted from the house and it says that if the tenant has paid rent, they cannot be evicted.”
However, if a tenant fails to pay rent as per the agreement, the law states that you are supposed to be given notice of eviction. “The law says tenants need a reasonable notice and courts permit two weeks as a reasonable notice for eviction for nonpayment of rent,” Agaba explains.
But besides eviction, when a tenant fails to pay rent, the landlord can chose to confiscate their property. However, this should be done in accordance to the law. The practice manager explains that the landlord must apply to court to get an order that allows them to confiscate your property until you pay rent. “But most landlords do it illegally. However, it can be challenged in court where by the tenant seeks a court order that their property be released.”
Meanwhile, besides the Act, there are clauses in the Tenant’s Agreement that can protect tenants. He cites an example of a landlord who decides to increase rent of their premises.
“When this happens, you can challenge the decision in court only if you have a tenant’s agreement that spells out when the rent shall be reviewed. So if the tenants agreement stipulates that you are supposed to review the rent after two years or after six months but get a letter informing you of the increase in rent after two months, then you know that the premise owner is in breach of the agreement and you can challenge the decision in court.”
He adds that in such cases, most tenants prefer to move house, however, this comes with extra costs. But, Agaba says the law gives a tenant a grace period of at least three months to look for alternative premises while they stay in the same house at the old rate.
Quiet possession of premises
Meanwhile, Mr Patrick Barugahare an advocates and legal consultant with Barugahare & Co Advocates adds that another right of a tenant is the right to quiet possession or enjoyment of the premises.
“As long as the tenant has paid rent and has complied with all the other terms of the tenants’ agreement, they have a right to live in the premise undisturbed by the landlord.”
Demand that landlord pays property levies
More so, the legal consultant adds that the landlord has also got some obligations like payment of property rent. Therefore if any authority serves notice, it’s the landlord’s responsibility.
He therefore states that on such grounds, the tenant has the right to demand that the landlord to makes sure that property rent, ground rent and other property levies charged by government are paid by the landlord.