General note to Members of the Public
The Rent Board facilitates both Landlords and tenants, and as such no action is taken until both parties have been consulted. The tribunal, which has the same power as the Court of Jamaica, handles issues relating to arrears of rent, refund of rent and illegal increases. On occasion they deal with utilities, especially if incorporated with the rent.
Registering property with the Rent Assessment Board (RAB)
The Rent Restriction Act states that all premises that are rented must be registered with the Rent Board for assessment. It is a misconception that houses built after 1980 are exempt from the jurisdiction of the RAB.
To be exempted, an application must be made for an Exemption Certificate from the Board. Commercial premises built after 1980 can be made exempt from the jurisdiction of the Rent Board in this manner.
If there is a subtenant, that tenant is the tenant of the landlord, whether that sub-tenant is with the consent of the Landlord, or in accordance with the express authority conferred by or under the tenancy agreement or lease shall, subject to the provisions of the law, after and if the primary tenant leaves.
By Jamaican law, rent can be increased by 7 ½ per cent annually without the permission of the RAB. The Board must approve an increase over 7 ½ per cent, only after an application is made. A higher increase is allowed after consideration to factors such as the increased cost in the rate of property taxes, improvements to property.
When there is an unreasonable or illegal increase in rent, the tenant is entitled to a refund.
Giving notice to quit premises for rent
A notice must be valid to take effect. Requirements of a valid notice to quit includes:
FOR RENT: Rent must be in arrears 30 clear days of the rent due date. Bear in mind that if a notice to quit is given for outstanding rent, and that sum is paid, the notice is no longer valid. Under no circumstances can the landlord harass the tenant to force departure, if the rent is still due when the notice expires.
To get the tenant to leave, the landlord must seek a court order. After the court order expires, if there is no extension granted, the landlord can take steps to get the bailiff to evict the tenant. More reasons on this site.
Tenant allowed right to extension of time to leave
Within a reasonable time before the expiry date of the court order, the tenant has the right to apply for extension of time. The Legal Aid Clinic at 131 Tower Street, Kingston usually assists in applying for the extension.
Flexibility and equality
It is always recommended that landlords and tenants go to the RAB first to try and hash out the issues. The RAB staff is flexible and strives to be balanced and just. Hence, both parties are consulted upon any complaint made, and before action is taken.
You may call or visit:
The Rent Assessment Board,
The Towers, 25 Dominica Drive,
Tel: 876-926-1590-3 / 876-906-1765
The above does not constitute legal advice. Inhouse senior journalists research and discuss with specialists eg attorneys-at-law, as necessary before posting responses. In conclusion, names are changed at times by request.
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