A rental freeze on residential properties and ground rents has been extended and will expire December 31 this year, Trade Minister Faiyaz Koya announced this week.
The freeze has been in place since March 2, 2007 and its extension follows an assessment by the Fiji Commerce Commission, with chair, Joann Young noting that the rent restriction forbade an increase to residential tenancy and ground rent to which the the Commerce Commission Act (2010) applied.
“Hence, the rent that was applicable on a property as at March 2, 2007 becomes the maximum rent and should be charged until the end of the year 2017,” the Commerce outlined.
Any rent increase between March 2, 2007 and December 31, 2017 will be deemed illegal, with penalties including spot fines of up to $2000.
The Commission has received a significant number of complaints relating to landlord and tenancy issues, which Young said indicated the necessity for more awareness and understanding of the rights and obligations of both parties.
“The rent freeze has been extended in an effort to maintain a certain level of control to ensure fair treatment of tenants as well as ensure affordability of residential rental properties.”
Additionally, effective from January 1 is the mandatory issuing of letting agreements and receipts by landlords.
The Fiji Commerce Commission is also working on a draft Residential Tenancy Bill to govern the property rental market, with consultations on this bill to be undertaken this year.
This legislation is expected to be completed this year and will address issues faced by landlords and tenants, including the issue of fair rental amounts.
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