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House rent hikes dog tenants

Ferdous Ara

Tenants have already started getting rent hike notices from house owners saying the increased rent would be in effect from the first month of the New Year 2014.
No government so far has addressed the issue of capricious house rent hike, leaving the tenants suffer immeasurably.
The owners increase house rent as much and when they wish on the plea of price hike of essentials and salary hike in different offices.
A tenant of Rampura Mohanagar project area, Mishu Rahman, has told New Age that their house rent will be increased by Tk 2,000 from January while they have to count currently Tk 12,000 as house rent per month, excluding the security charge, electricity, water and gas bills.
‘We are living in this house as it is convenient for children’s schooling and our offices and now it is impossible to move from the house,’ he said.
If the tenants ever oppose such rent hike, owners straightway tell them to leave the house, so most of the time the tenants remain silent and do not argue with owners, said a Badda resident Tuhin Habib.
He said their house owner every year increase the rent by Tk 500-800 but this year it increased by Tk 1,500 without any consultation with tenants though he promised he would not increase rent in two years.
Slum dwellers and low income people face a more horrible situation, they claimed.
Monju, a housemaid, pays at Tk 2,800 monthly for a room at Modhubagh Jheelpar Slum where they share one washroom and kitchen with 50 people.
She works in three different houses of Nayatola area and earns Tk 3000 per month which she spends for house rent but on Friday the house owner said the rent would be increased by Tk 400 from January.
‘If my whole earning is spent on rent, how would my rickshaw puller husband run this six-member family with his poor income,’ said frustrated Monju.
However, land lord Minhaz Abedin of Mirpur Shewrapara said, ‘As this is my only source of income every year I have to increase the rent. Every year officer’s salary is increasing so house rent should also be increased’.
Rent increases every year even though the House Rent Control Act 1991 says rent can only be hiked every two years, said Consumers Association of Bangladesh president Qazi Faruque.
He said that every year house rent in the capital is going up by about 15 per cent in the absence of appropriate law and specific authority to implement it.
He said among 15 million people of the capital nearly 90 per cent live in rented houses and for them there is an act which has many loopholes.
CAB president said there is no implementation of the law though the law says there must be written agreement, owners can take only one month’s advance, owners can be fined for taking more than one month’s advance, owners must provide tenants with receipts and house rent cannot be raised before 2 years etc.
Dhaka South City Corporation updated a house rent chart in 2008 but they have no power to deal with house rent dispute, said DSCC chief revenue officer Md Mostafa Kamal.
Dhaka additional deputy commissioner (revenue) Abul Fazal Mir told New Age that the government issued an order to appoint some assistant judges under the district judge court as rent controllers but the appointment was not carried out by the deputy commissioner’s office.
Manzill Murshid, who moved a writ petition on behalf of the Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh to know of the details of the rent controllers, referred to Section 3(1) of the house rent act and hoped that by this month they would get the verdict.
According to Section 3(1) of the House Rent Control Act, the government may, by notification in the official gazette, appoint any person as a controller                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 for any area to exercise the powers and discharge the duties conferred and imposed upon a controller by or under the act.
If the HC accepts the prayers of the petition, it may direct the government to form a commission to fix house rents and form of a ward-wise committee with lawyers, senior citizens, social activists and professionals to handle the rent debate, said Manzill Murshid, who moved the petition.

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