Rent Freeze Welcomed

02/01/2015 08:52

The Consumer Council of Fiji welcomes the State-decision to extend rent freeze on residential property for another year (ending on 31 December 2015).

As such property owners of residential dwellings who have let out their premises for rent toindividuals/families cannot increase rent above the level that was applicable to the same premises asat 31 December2014.

Rent freeze will protect consumers from unreasonable rent hike considering many Fijian consumersare still struggling to have access to decent but low-cost housing. With such a policy to controlresidential rent hike, many consumers can breathe a sigh of relief that they don’t have to fork outextra money for rent.

The Council is issuing a fresh reminder to all landlords to refrain from increasing rent on theirresidential properties unless approved by the Fiji Commerce Commission.The ploy to beat thesystem is well known to the Council where landlords in the past, gave eviction notice to existingtenants as a way to increase the rent for new tenants who have no idea that the rent has gone up.

Landlords must comply with the Rent Freeze Order as any non compliance can lead to prosecution bythe Fiji Commerce Commission. Property owners are at liberty to establish initial rent but any increase inrent after that must be endorsed by the Fiji Commerce Commission.

The Council also applauds the assurance given by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourismtowards developing legislation on residential tenancy that will provide appropriate level ofprotection to both tenants and the landlords.

The Council would like to remind tenants that they will now be required to pay only $10 for stampduty per tenancy agreement if their monthly rental is below $700; rent ranging from $700 to $1,500will be required to pay $20 as stamp duty and rental rate above $1,500 will be required to pay $500for stamp duty.

Tenants are encouraged to approach the Council or the Fiji Commerce Commission to lodge theircomplaints if they are subjected to an unfair rental increase or stamp duty charges.