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By Aabigayle McIntosh
The government of Antigua and Barbuda has taken a significant step towards enhancing its rental laws by approving a program to revise and modernize the Rent Restriction Act.
This decision was made due to concerns raised by residents regarding the rental rates imposed by landlords, as well as the challenges faced by landlords in collecting rent from delinquent tenants.
The primary objective of this program is to introduce a fair and equitable framework for setting rental rates and update mechanisms that facilitate rent collection by landlords.
While acknowledging the principles of a free market economy, the government is committed to regulating this sector to ensure fairness and equity.
To achieve this goal, the Rent Restriction Board will be established, and immediate steps will be taken to ensure its proper functioning. This act may be old, but the government recognizes the importance of keeping it relevant and up-to-date.
“Even under the circumstances, the Minister of Trade did make representation for the appointment of the Board. He was joined by the Attorney General who indicated that the technicians are working now on the review of the legislation,” Nicholas said
Nicholas also explains that the increase in rental fees should fall in line with the inflation rate. He also pointed out that the issues between tenants and landlords must be dealt with the same degree of importance.
“When the new legislation is presented, I am sure that there will be an opportunity for public consultation on this particular issue the government does not want to fetter the investment opportunities that exist in the market for rent, but understands it has some responsibility in bringing equity and balance,” Nicholas said.
In a parallel development, the Cabinet has also decided to create new parcels of land in the Dunbars area for sale to young professionals.
Empowering the country’s citizens through land ownership has been a consistent policy of the Gaston Browne administration.
While the typical commercial land rate in that region is approximately $15 per square foot, the Cabinet has opted to price the newly designated parcels at $6 to $7 per square foot for residential use and at $13 per square foot for commercial purposes.
The management of the land sale will be organized to ensure accessibility for young Antiguans and Barbudans, with covenants in place to prevent speculation and the undue benefit of wealthy buyers.