Friday, April 12, 2024

“What Matters Most to Me is Not Just the Law, But the Implementation of the Rent Bill” – Hon. Essa Conteh

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By: Alieu Jallow

Hon. Essa Conteh, the National Assembly member for Jimara, emphasizes that what matters to him is the implementation of the rent bill. He points out that the country excels at creating good laws, but the implementation of these laws remains a challenge. He stresses that these laws often end up gathering dust.

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“What matters most to me is not just the law, but the implementation of the rent bill. At the end of the day, we [can] make a very good and progressive law. It is passed and kept somewhere, gathering dust. In this case, we don’t want that to happen because we want to regulate the issue of rent. Tenants should be comfortable in their houses, and landlords should also have peace of mind.”

The cost of affordable housing rent within urban areas is alarming, with agents contributing significantly to the price hike. They impose terms and conditions that many average Gambians find hard to meet. In their lucrative business, they often overlook the crippling living conditions of tenants whose meager earnings barely cover all their needs.

Last week, the member for Serrekunda West, Hon. Madi Ceesay, tabled the bill before fellow parliamentarians. The bill aims to update the rent laws from 2014 by adjusting values for specified low-cost rental premises to align with contemporary times, making it more affordable for ordinary people. The bill also seeks to address tenant issues.

Hon. Conteh believes the bill is a significant move that will address conflicts between landlords and tenants.

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“We will consult with relevant stakeholders so that we can incorporate their input and make a law that benefits everybody,” he pointed out.

Hon. Conteh sees the necessity for the revival and amendment of the bill, drawing on his experience as a landlord in charge of his brother’s property.

“I know very well what is happening in the field. Landlords have their reservations about what is happening and why it is happening because they also feel tenants’ failure to comply with their obligations,” he cited.

He further highlighted that rent is the primary source of income for most landlords but emphasized the importance of considering the benefits for both parties.

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The bill has currently passed the second reading with some amendments, such as the demand for a six-month advance payment requested by the landlord and an increase in rent without notice. These amendments are now forwarded to the committee for review and amendment before being tabled again before the general assembly.

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