Rental Housing Amendment Bill

A Rental Housing Amendment Bill has been published which is soon becoming the Rental Housing Amendment Act. Some changes is to be noted to the current Rental Housing Act, of which the most are applicable to Ministers, Tribunals and Municipalities. I am not going to bore you with that information, whilst it might be worth reading it.

Practically the most important changes are that the Bill specifies the rights and obligations of the tenant and also the rights and obligations of the landlord. If one scrutinizes the Bill, it is to be noted that these rights and obligations are already contained in section 5 of the Rental Housing Act.

Noteworthy changes, however, are firstly that the Bill specifies that the landlord has the right to evict the tenant after obtaining a Court Order in accordance with the Prevention of Illegal Evictions from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act 19/1998 (“The PIE Act”). Until now it has only been a Court decision that the eviction of a tenant has to be dealt according to the PIE Act. There was also some controversy about that and some jurists were of the opinion that PIE is not applicable to leases, but now it seems that the Legislator has cleared the controversy and now it is the law.

Secondly the Bill defines “habitability” and I quote. Habitability refers to a dwelling that is safe and suitable for living in and includes
(a) adequate space;
(b) protection from the elements and other threats to health;
(c) physical safety of the tenant, the tenant’s household and visitors; and
(d) a structurally sound building.
Habitable has a corresponding meaning.

The Bill also defines “maintenance” and I quote. Maintenance includes such repairs and upkeep as may be required to ensure that a dwelling is in a habitable condition.
Maintain has a corresponding meaning.

The Bill furthermore places an obligation on the landlord that the landlord must (not may) provide a tenant with a dwelling that is in a habitable condition, as well as maintain the existing structure of the dwelling and where possible facilitate the provision of basic services to the dwelling.

A final change that is to be noted is that if the tenant is responsible for payment of any additional charges in respect of the lease, eg. levies, municipal charges, etc, those has to be specified in the lease.