Samson's take: Illegal rent advance - Moesha

SAMSON LARDY MASLOC Samson Lardy Anyenini, is host for Joynews' Newsfile program

Sat, 14 Apr 2018 Source: Samson Lardy Anyenini

The nation is upset with one of its citizens for telling the world about wrongs, and difficulties she encounters. She (a single lady) has chosen to sell her body to married men to pay her rent instead of engaging in decent labour. We are angry because she blames the economy for her lazy waywardness and generalizes that women in the country must sell their dignity and self-worth to survive.

The Gender Ministry has issued a statement to formally condemn Moesha and dissociate women from her claims. I am not interested in the choices she and those who think like her make. But she draws attention to a major failing by the State in her reference to landlords demanding two years rent advance. It is illegal yet it is the the norm rather than the exception in Ghana.

The rent law in section 25 prohibits the practice by punishing offenders to a fine of up to GHC 3000.00. It says "[a] person who as a condition of the grant, renewal or continuance of a tenancy demands in the case of a monthly or shorter tenancy, the payment in advance of more than a month’s rent or in the case of a tenancy exceeding six months, the payment in advance of more than six months rent, commits an offence and is liable on conviction by the Rent Magistrate to a fine not exceeding two hundred and fifty penalty units."

The offender may also suffer additional sanctions including a refund of excess rent to the tenant.

The State has so terribly failed to enforce this law. Landlords increase rent at will and in breach of the requirements of the Rent Act 1963 (Act 220). The result is that many simply can't afford to have the basic need of a roof over their heads. People are forced to do all sorts of things to cough up unjustified unlawful exorbitant monthly rental charges, and to be compelled to pay two years advance of such rent can be a hellish experience for people starting life.

It is obvious we have all sinned against this law and caused untold hardship to many. What I want to hear the government talk about is how it will enforce the six months rent advance. What I don't want to hear the government talk about is the ridiculous review of this law to require landlords to take only one month rent advance. The draft bill should be looked at again and if there are better plans of enforcement informing this review, let's start implementing the old regime, and if we must reduce thresholds at all costs, let's pilot a three-months' rent advance regime instead.

A State that cannot guarantee its citizens this basic regulatory compliance, protection and organized life should not be heard complaining about what they say about it on CNN.

Samson Lardy ANYENINI

April 14, 2018

Columnist: Samson Lardy Anyenini