The Ugandan parliament has passed theLandlord and Tenants bill 2018 to law. The bill which seeks to regulate the relationship between landlord and tenants was passed with several amendments that relate to the duties and rights landlords and tenants have in rented commercial and residential premises.
The key provisions in the new bill is that landlords and tenants must sign a tenancy agreement (contract) for rent transaction that goes above Shs 500,000 with terms and conditions clearly stated. Also, all tenancy disputes shall be handled in a local council court and other courts of law. It further states that landlords can only evict tenants after securing a court order to do so. Any unlawful eviction will attract a penalty of Shs 5 million or jail term of one year or both upon conviction. Members of parliament also approved the provision that landlords must give tenants an eviction notice of up to six months. The bill also states that the landlord must notify the tenant about plans to increase rent in at least 90 days.
The most controversial provision however 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. Before the bill was passed, Amelia Kyambadde the Trade, Industry and Cooperatives minister and Sarah Opendi the Health state minister had a clashed with Gabriel Ajedra the General Duties state minister in Finance over the issue. Gabriel Ajedra argued that the law should not restrict rental transactions to shillings alone. He said “We have foreign embassies in this country that rent properties from Ugandans and the way they pay for it, is that they pay a fixed sum of rent every month, every year and those sums are budgeted by their respective countries. They do not consider the fluctuations of the local currency in these countries. It is only fair that we have provisions for both the local and foreign currency.” Kyambadde and Opendi however shot down Ajedra’s proposal saying the minister is supposed to promoting Ugandan currency and not try to give room for the dollars fully aware that most Ugandan tenants are being exploited because of its use. The pair went on to say that the use of shillings to settle rent will help in strengthening the country’s currency and will help in consistently advocating for local content.
Some provisions have been deleted in the bill including the Distress for rent (Bailiffs) act, 1976. The lands minister Betty Amongi has praised the members of the parliament for passing the bill after a long time since it was proposed. The Bill was tabled before parliament February this year. The bill now awaits presidential assent.