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Rent law heads to assembly

Women prepare food at their rented flats earlier this year in Meanchey district.
Women prepare food at their rented flats earlier this year in Meanchey district. A draft law aimed at regulating housing prices and rental hikes is set to be presented to the National Assembly in June. Pha Lina

Rent law heads to assembly

The draft of a rent-control law aimed at regulating rising housing prices and sudden rental hikes for low-income workers and students is expected to go before the National Assembly by the end of June, officials from the bipartisan working group in charge of the law said yesterday.

The nearly finalised draft, a copy of which was obtained by the Post, includes four chapters and 11 articles and is currently being reviewed by Interior Minsiter Sar Kheng and opposition leader Sam Rainsy, said Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker Pal Sam Oeun.

Instead of covering all tenants in Cambodia, like some opposition members proposed in March, it will only cover “formal and informal labour workers who have low monthly incomes” and “students studying in universities who have a difficult living standard”.

The working group plans to consult other government officials and develop a sub-decree defining what will be classified as a low income, said working group deputy chief and Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker Ou Chanrith.

“Personally, I think there should be a broader law that covers all tenants and all landlords, but the two parties have agreed that this is good for now,” Chanrith said. “We’re focusing on the poor and how this could protect and benefit them.”

Under the proposed law, landlords and tenants must agree to a binding two-year contract written and endorsed by the relevant commune chief.

During the two years, landlords are prohibited from increasing rent and can only dissolve a contract if a tenant fails to pay his rent two consecutive times without a valid reason, or misuses the property and disrupts the peace and order of the neighbourhood they live in.

On the other hand, tenants have the right to withdraw from the contract at any time.

With property prices increasing across the Kingdom, Century 21 Regent Realty CEO Nguon Chhayleang said the law could “effectively prevent the increase from affecting marginalised groups”.

However, he added that the policy seems disadvantageous for landlords.

“I think this is a little bit unfair to the landlords, because market prices fluctuate often, and two years is too long of a time for a contract,” Chhayleang said.

Chanrith said that they have no plans to set a cap on rents.

Housing Rights Task Force secretariat director Sia Phearum said he was pleased that the rent control law is gradually coming to fruition but disappointed that relevant civil society organisations, landlords and tenants were not consulted in its creation.

“It comes as a surprise that the draft is almost done,” Phearum said. “I want to see the government initiate conversation with the renters and those who work with them.”

“It’s still a draft, so it’s open for input,” Chanrith said.

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