Council welcomes rent freeze extension

31/12/2019 14:57

Consumers will greet the new year with good news after the Government announced that the rent freeze has been further extended until December 31, 2020. The announcement was made on Monday pursuant to the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission (Rent Increase Restriction on Residential and Ground Rent) Order 2019

 The Order states that “between the period of 01 January, 2020 and 31 December, 2020, a person must not charge rent in respect of the letting or continued letting of any premises under residential tenancy including ground rentals to which the Act applies which exceeds the rent applicable to those premises as at 31 December, 2019.”

 Simply, effective from 01 January, 2020, property owners of residential dwellings who give out their premises for rent, cannot increase the rent until 31 December, 2020. Any premises rented out for the first time are not subject to the Order, but any increase thereafter will be subject to the restriction.

 The rent freeze on residential properties has been in place since 2007 with a broader purpose to protect consumers, ensure the affordability of residential rental properties and provide access to affordable housing as a whole.

 The issue of illegal rent increases is concerning and the Council has so far received 54 complaints from 01 January, 2019 to date against some residential landlords who are trying to illegally increase rent. Unfortunately, when tenants refuse to pay the increased rent or report the matter to the Council, the landlord hands them an eviction notice using the excuse for renovations. Such tactics are used to suppress tenants from exercising their legal rights and to smartly increase the rent to unsuspecting new tenants. This is unethical, unprincipled and dishonorable on landlords taking advantage of the system for their gain.

 The Council is reiterating to landlords that they must provide duly executed tenancy agreements and receipts for all rent payments to tenants. The Council is also reminding tenants to act responsibly and read and understand the tenancy agreement before signing and moving into the rental property.

Consumer who need further advise on any landlord and tenant issue can also call the Council’s toll free National Consumer helpline on 155.