The Rent Control Department from January 2018 to April, received over 2000 complaints of disputes between landlords and tenants.
Despite this daunting task of ensuring that tenants are not shortchanged while house owners are also fairly treated, it is sad to note that, the Rent Control Department nationwide, has only one vehicle for the 200-staff-capacity institution.
According to the Rent Control Officer, Twum Ampofo, the only vehicle was even taken from another department.
Twum Ampofo lamented on the Citi Breakfast Show on Thursday, saying:
“Our staff strength is almost 200. We have only one vehicle borrowed to us from Hydro department and that is our major challenge.”
According to him, because they lack basic logistics, their staff nationwide often embark on monitoring exercises “with their own resources.”
He thus called on government and benevolent organizations to come to their aid by supporting them with logistics including vehicles.
“Normally, they [staff of the Rent Control Department] go on the field with their own resources; and we are pleading with the state and any other benevolent organizations to come to our aid,” Mr. Ampofo pleaded.
Ghanaians worried over high cost of rent
Ghana has close to 2 million housing deficit, and as such many depend on accommodation facilities owned by private individuals.
But many Ghanaians are often upset about the high cost of rent demanded by these private property owners as some charge demand two to three years rent advance.
This usually causes friction between house owners and their tenants.
The lack of a proper regulation is also a concern for many, considering that in some non-prime areas in Accra; a chamber and hall self-contained accommodation facility goes for as high as GHc800 in non-prime areas.
Although the law requires tenants to pay advance rent of up to 6 months, most landlords demand 2-years’ rent advance before tenants can occupy their property.
Role of Rent Control Department
The Rent Control Department receives thousands of complaints from tenants, and is among other things expected to ensure that tenants are not fleeced by house owners and their agents with arbitrary rent increases.
New rent bill to make tenants pay one-year advance
Government is however putting together a new rent bill to regulate the country’s housing space.
The bill, which will be laid before Parliament soon if approved, will require tenants pay between one month to a year’s rent advance instead of the initial six-months in the existing rent law, Act 1963.
“The rent advance at the moment is supposed to be six months and the new law hoping to be passed sooner or later is actually giving us a year. We have prepared the one year advance supposed to be paid by tenants. It starts from one month to one year.”
He also said they took into consideration the issues that confront landlords before making the review.
“This is because of the conflict between the landlords and the tenants. At times the problem is that tenants are supposed to pay between one month to six months, but because of the deficit of the accommodation in this country, some people have developed their premises with the help of the estate developers. They’ve gone in for loans to build these kinds of houses for rent.”
“…So when we ask them to take one month, the one month [amount] will not help them to pay off the loans given to them…we have come to realize that it is an inconvenience for landlords. [Also] One month or three months’ rent cannot help landlords to renovate their properties. So we have taken into consideration that one year rent will resolve the matter of paying advance to help the landlords to restructure their properties,” he added.