BY ARTHUR ARNOLD WADERO
Members of parliament’s Physical Infrastructure Committee have proposed that a law that bars business owners and other persons in hired premises from remitting rent during times of emergency such as national lockdowns and catastrophic situations that plague businesses be enacted.
The lawmakers want this to be captured in the Landlord and Tenant Bill 2021 that is currently under scrutiny under the line committee.
This suggestion was made by Sarah Opendi, the Tororo District Woman MP, and was supported by a section of fellow lawmakers who were receiving views from the business operators under their umbrella body, Kampala Capital City Traders Association (KACITA).
Opendi who also doubles as the energy state minister premised her suggestion on the shocks fueled by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and other emergencies reasoning that it would be unfair for landlords to press tenants to remit rent even after the occurrence of emergencies.
With specific reference made to the tragic twin bombings on Tuesday morning that shuttered property and claimed lives before halting business in Kampala, Opendi said this would minimize the possibilities of businesses collapsing.
In response, a section of the KACITA officials through their Spokesperson Mr Issa Ssekito said much as the proposal safe guards tenants, there are fears that the proposal would strongly opposed by landlords.
“So the time to notify someone to increase rent to KACITA, we think it is still reasonable because if you are going to increase my rent for three months, I would have a reason or a chance to either vacate after locating a different place where I am going to work from or organize and be ready for your increment,” Mr Ssekito said.
Relatedly, the KACITA leadership asked Parliament to reverse the decision by landlords demanding the tenant within major outlets in the City Centre to remit their rent charges in the US dollar currency.
Ssekito however requested that parliament also enact a provision that would allow for landlords through contractual agreement to compel their tenants to remit rent in the form of US Dollar currency.
“It is important that we respect the Uganda shilling because it is the basis upon which we shall value it. If you don’t give weight to the Uganda shilling, nobody else will respect it,” Mr Ssekito said.