Fiji Landlords Looks For End To Rent Freeze Order

Consultation on draft Landlord and Tenant Act 2017 ongoing

By Kalesi Mele

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, March 3, 2017) – Landlords across the Western Division want the rent freeze order lifted.

During consultations on the draft landlord and tenant act 2017, homeowners called on the Fiji Commerce Commission to remove the rent freeze order for a justified return on their investments.

Sanctioned in March 2, 2007, the rent freeze disallowed a landlord to increase rent price despite making upgrades to rented properties.

With the rent freeze set to expire in December this year, landlords could possibly be allowed to increase rent if the order is discontinued. Landlords, however, will have to apply three months in advance to the Fiji Commerce Commission who will then make verification checks to ensure their request is justifiable.

Consultations have been held in Sigatoka, Nadi and Lautoka so far.

In Nadi, concern was raised that the rent freeze could harm investment opportunities for the housing sector as the act could be seen as a limiting factor to what investors would like to do.

Lautoka resident Marion Driver said the freeze disallowed them from taking into account refurbishments and upgrades carried out on rented properties.

"For some this is how they earn a living and the rent freeze disallows them from charging what they rightfully should," he said.

"If the freeze remains, how then will they earn a return on their investments if they've committed to upgrades of rental property?"

FCC prices and incomes inspector rent Sekope Ciriyamotu said once the rent freeze expired, landlords could apply as many times as they wanted.

"Under normal circumstances a landlord can apply as many times as they want but there is a 12-week (three months) notice," he said.

"We have received numerous request for increase with some investing $500,000 [US$241,000] into property upgrades but our answer continues to be no because the order stipulates that we cannot.

"Rent freeze does expire in December and we are taking submissions for your suggestions and once this is finalised, then we will see where we can go from there but right now we have stopped receiving applications for rent increase because the order remains."

Fiji Times Online.
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