22 March 2019

Namibia: Children No Ground for Rent Refusal

Children cannot be a basis for a landlord to refuse a tenant to rent their place, says a provision in the largely defunct Rents Ordinance of Namibia.

The same ordinance says property owners may not charge more than 50 percent deposit to a place.

This, for example, means the maximum deposit a landlord can charge from a place rented at N$5000 a month is N$2500.

Currently, many landlords charge deposit equal to the monthly rent - N$5000 if using the example above.

The Affirmative Repositioning movement, which has been at the forefront of calling for making a Rent Control Board, shared some of these provisions earlier this week.

The ordinance also states that a property owner should give a three months' notice to anybody to leave property and not less than that.

Minister of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development Tjekero Tweya appointed a rent control board last year November, aimed at regulating the rental market with a view to prevent the current exploitation of tenants by landlords.

Twenty-five members were appointed in towns of Oshakati, Rundu, Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Windhoek.

AR, whose activist Dimbulukeni Nauyoma, is on the Windhoek rent control board, said five months after members were appointed no meeting has been held. Tweya, who was in Bucharest, Romania this week, could not be reached for comment.

AR's Job Amupanda stated that they held a workshop where they went through the Rent Ordinance 13 of 1977 cover to cover with representatives on various rent control board. The workshop included activists and legal practitioners.

Amupanda said Section 25 of the ordinance prohibits receiving money in excess of rent.

"No person shall in respect of any dwelling claim or accept from the lessee or a prospective lessee of such dwelling payment of more than one month's rent in advance, or any payment as a deposit in addition to the rent, save a deposit not exceeding an amount equal to half of one month's rent, in respect of any damage to such dwelling or any loss of keys for which the lessee may become liable," it reads.

"This basically means, when you move in a flat, they ask for a deposit and that deposit is equivalent to one rent month. But in terms of the ordinance, the deposit must be half. If you rent a flat of N$5000 you pay before you move in. (But) they (landlords) ask for upfront payment, one-month rent and deposit of N$5000. The only deposit you are supposed to pay is N$2500," stated Amupanda adding what the landlord are currently doing is illegal.

He added that the lessor is supposed to invest the deposit with building society and shall be refunded to the tenant when they vacate, together with the interest earned from the deposit.

In addition, Amupanda said the ordinance makes mention of appointment of inspectors who will go see the area and check if the specific area is worth the amount you are being charged.

"They will go to the garages and see where you are keeping (people) and why you are charging what you are charging," remarked Amupanda. However, there are no inspectors appointed.

The activist added that the ordinance also stated that children are no ground for refusal to lease.

"From today onwards, people should know it is illegal to advertise that children are not allowed. It is illegal for someone to refuse you to rent on the basis that you have children. They are not even allowed to ask if the prospective tenant has children."


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