Some residents in Accra, have expressed displeasure over the rent advance some landlords and ladies take. According to them, the law to enforce strict payment of only three months advance should be enforced with immediate effect.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Accra, Mr Benjamin Terkper, a resident of Akweteman, Achimota said he was charged two years advance before given a place to lay his head.
“My land lord asked me to pay two years’ advance before giving me a room. I was however, not reluctant to pay because I had saved for that. “Not all men can pay such an amount when asked to do so. As such, the rooms are mostly given to foreigners who can pay,” he said.
Nicholas Bempong, a Commissioner of Oath and a resident of Agege Shiabu explained how uneconomical the rent is. “The rent advance charged by land lords is too expensive. My land lord took three years advance from me before accommodating me in his house. He also instructed that I pay an annual advance instead of the three months specified.
“I had no option than to accept the offer. Punishments should be meted out to any land lord/ lady who would go contrary to the law. “Any land lord who charges over the stipulated number should be prosecuted without mercy because they treat foreigners badly,” he said.
Mr Godwin Gyimah, a resident of Mamprobi Agege, Accra said he had to construct his own washroom without the financial assistance of his land lord after paying two years advance for two bedroom apartment.
Mr Stephen Martey, who has spent four years in a house at La, said he was not instructed on the specific advance to pay but he decided to pay two years to his land lady.
Ms Vida Addo, a land lady from Osu Ring Road Estate said she takes rent advance based on the capabilities of the tenants and so if a tenant decides to pay one or two years advance, she welcomes it.
Mrs Catherine Arthur, also a land lady said the three tenants in her house have been instructed to pay a constant advance for a year. However, if a tenant negotiates with her she could only allow a six months advance and not three months.
“I cannot take just three months. I take one year advance, which is used to renovate the house. I can’t go to the tenants for money after every three months, when I have to put structures in place.
“If you want the three months to be taken then the moment the rent expires, the tenant has to be sacked. “If a tenant is true to his words and asks for a negotiation in the one year advance, I allow a six months but not three months,” she said.
Mr Emmanuel Mensah Afedi, an Osu Ahusantso landlord said: “The three months law on rent must be embraced in order to ease the financial burden on the tenants.
“It is his wish to take only three months advance from the tenants he would be receiving. Meanwhile Mr Twum Ampofo, the Acting Chief Rent Officer of the Rent Control Department, says no landlord or lady has the right to take rent advance for more than three months.
“The Rent Control Act 1963, Act 220 under Section 255 states that no landlord has the right to take rent advance for more than three months and six months for residential and commercial areas,” he said in interview with the GNA in Accra.
Mr Ampofo said a review of the Act awaiting approval would make it possible for landlords/ladies to take one-year advance, and until the Bill is enacted the Department intends to enforce the current law.
“If a tenant reports such things to us, it is the duty of the authorities to ensure that landlords desist from charging above the specified number of months,” he said.
“Tenants have no right to add rent in advance at the end of the prescribed advance paid. It is unacceptable and illegal for landlords to demand for an advance if the tenancy has not expired,” he explained.
Mr Ampofo said if a tenant demands refund of an advance paid, the parties would be invited to the Department to enforce refund of the amount.
He noted that any landlord who does not adhere to the dictates of the law would be dealt, adding: “The matter would be referred to the Rent Control Magistrate Court where landlords would be sentenced to six months imprisonment or pay a penalty, which rests on the bosom of the judge or both.”
Mr Ampofo said the major challenge the Department faces with the enforcement of laws is the abuse of power because people think their positions cannot be interfered with.