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How fair is the draft rent-control law really?

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Nan Ony, legal officer of Housing Right Task Force, thinks the rent-control law improves tenants situation at the cost of landlords. Hong Menea

How fair is the draft rent-control law really?

The draft of the rent-control law for low-income workers and students, which is comprised of four chapters and 11 articles, is expected to be presented before the National Assembly by the end of June.

Nan Ony, legal officer of Housing Right Task Force, spoke with Post Property about the aim of the law and his opinion on its current form.

What is your opinion on a rent-control law?
In general, the objective of a rent-control law is to protect and help low-income tenants such as garment and construction workers and students. The law has a good objective. Article 1 of the draft already states that the aim [of the rent law] is to protect both landlords and tenants by providing a stable livelihood.

Do you think the proposed draft is complete?
I think that the draft lacks equity. Article 5 obviously states that tenants have rights to withdraw from a rental agreement at any time, without informing the landlord. This seems to only protect tenants.
And Article 8 states that landlords cannot increase the rent prices within a two-year period once a rental agreement has been signed. I do not believe that this is fair. The aim of a law should be to protect both landlords and tenants.

How can the draft be ammended before heading to the National Assembly?
Before the draft of the law is finalized, there should be several seminars, at least two or three, where experts from the civil society, workers and students can come together to improve the draft.

Who will benefit most in the draft’s present form?
Article 5 and 8 illustrate a serious inequity for landlords. I think it does not give landlords any rights. If landlords have to pay an unfixed property tax, while they are legally bound to not raise the cost of rent, how is that balanced? While the law is being crafted, we have to look at who gains the most. We don’t want just one party to win. We need to represent both parties equally. It does not mean I want to protect landlords, but the law has to be balanced.

So the draft bill in not acceptable as it is now?
In my opinion, the draft is not acceptable. If it comes into effect in its current form, it will impact the Kingdom negatively. If any laws are adopted that do not serve the people’s interest, it will have an impact on how the country is perceived not only by its citizens, but also by the international community. In order to make the draft law effective, we have to have enough time to review it, and we need legal experts to correct what is missing. When we correct the points that are lacking, then the law can go to the National Assembly for a vote.