Tenancies bill stands still

Hiring freeze cited as cause

The highly anticipated Residential
Tenancies Bill, passed in the Legislative Assembly in March of 2009, will not
be enacted any time soon.

This is because the residential tenancies
commissioner cannot be appointed due to a freeze on government hiring,
according to Permanent Secretary Kearney Gomez.

Mr. Gomez said, “Though it has
passed in the Legislative Assembly, nothing can be done with the bill until we
have the staff to enact it.”

 The Residential Tenancies Bill would require
leases to be set out in writing, as well as empower a residential tenancies commissioner
to help mediate disputes between landlords and tenants.

The hope was that the legislation
would have made it clear to all parties involved what their obligations are,
according to the then Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts, now Leader
of the Opposition.

 At the time of the bill’s passing, Mr.
Tibbetts said he believed the Legislation would also result in improved quality
of the residential housing  stock, as landlords
would face fines for not putting new rental agreements in writing.

The law, as set out in the bill,
also lists details that should be listed on all rental agreements before they
are signed.

These include the amount of rent
that is to be charged, the size of the security deposit, the period of notice
that will be required to vacate a property, and a list of goods left by the

A statement as to who is
responsible for the payment of utility bills would also be required.

Lawmakers who passed the bill said
they saw the need for a reform of residential tenancy laws after Hurricane Ivan
in 2004.

Apparently tenants whose rental
properties had survived the storm without damage found themselves suddenly homeless,
as opportunistic landlords sought to attract higher rents from those desperate
for accommodation.

On the other hand, the the scenario
in which a tenant may refuse to leave a property even though their lease has
expired and rent payments are past due, also exists.

 Minister for Housing Mike Adam said he was
aware of the Bill and its passing. He added that it was something he would look
into to see what progress could be made by the way of enactment of the


Mr. Gomez.
Photo: File