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Rent Control - What Is It?

Taken from the Bermuda Government Rent Comissioner’s Office website – Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is the purpose of the Rent Increases (Domestic Premises) Control Act 1978?

To provide tenants with security of tenure. The Act requires a landlord to show that he has a lawful ground for terminating a tenancy and to prove in a court, if necessary, the “just cause” for serving a tenant a notice-to-quit; and to control increases in rent. The Act requires that every rent increase on a tenancy of a dwelling be first approved by the Director of Rent Commission before being charged to a tenant.

 

What are the powers and functions of the Rent Commissioner’s Office? 

  • To regulate how much rent can be increased
  • To control how often rent can be increased
  • To protect tenants from arbitrary eviction
  • To limit how much a landlord can charge for a rental deposit
  • To hear and rule on undesirable tenant cases
  • To institute court proceedings against any person who contravenes the law
  • To provide information on rent controlled dwellings
  • To inspect and survey residential rental dwellings in response to rent increase applications
  • To investigate allegations of rent overcharges
  • To mediate rental disputes
  • To educate landlords and tenants of their rights and responsibilities under rent control laws and present public education seminars
  • To encourage the public to use our offices as a source of information, counseling and direct interaction when dealing with issues and concerns relevant to landlord and tenant matters

 

What tenancies are protected under the Rent Increases (Domestic Premises) Control Act 1978?

Any single tenancy of a residential unit which has an annual rental value (ARV) in the current Valuation List of $27,000 or less.

 

What grounds may a landlord use to serve a tenant a notice to vacate the premises?

A landlord may serve on a tenant a notice-to-quit for any of the following grounds:

  • For failure to pay rent or for breach of any other covenant or condition of the rental agreement; or
  • Where a landlord requires the premises for his own occupation, or for the occupation of his father, mother or any child or grandchild of his over the age of 18 years or married; or
  • Where a landlord wishes to rebuild the premises or intends to carry out major renovations (i.e. extensive, which cannot be carried out with the tenant in occupation); or
  • Where a landlord specifies that a tenant is undesirable (as defined under the provisions the law) and the landlord has given him an opportunity to remedy the matter complained of and the tenant has failed to do so.

 

How can a landlord increase a tenant’s rent?

  • Where a landlord and tenant mutually agree to a rent increase, the landlord must lodge an RC/2 application in triplicate with the Director of Rent Commission, notifying him of the increase.
  • Where a tenant does not agree to a landlord’s proposal to increase his rent, the landlord must lodge an RC/8 application with the Director of Rent Commission for his approval to increase the rent.

 

Is a tenancy of a condominium or townhouse subject to rent control?

A tenancy of a condominium or townhouse or any other residential unit is subject to the Rent Increases (Domestic Premises) Control Act 1978, if the whole of such premise is the subject of a single tenancy and the current ARV of the premises is $27,000 or less.

 

Can a prospective tenant agree to a rent increase?

A prospective tenant cannot agree to a rent increase. If a landlord wishes to charge a new tenant rent exceeding the maximum chargeable rent under the Act, the landlord must first lodge a RC/7 application with the Director of Rent Commission for his approval to increase the rent.

 

What action can a landlord or tenant take if aggrieved by the terms of the Director of Rent Commission’s initial rent increase certificate?

 

If a landlord or a tenant is unhappy with the rent increase assessed for a rental premises, either party may lodge an application to have the terms of the initial rent increase certificate reviewed by the Director. In such a case, the Director shall consult the Rent Increases Advisory Panel and shall thereafter serve on the landlord and tenant certificates specifying his decision.

 

What can a tenant do if he has paid an unlawful rent?

If a landlord has charged a tenant a rent which is in excess of the maximum chargeable rent under the Act, the tenant may recover from the landlord the excess so charged in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

 

Can a landlord charge a deposit for a rental unit?

A landlord can demand that a tenant pay a deposit for a rental premise. However, the deposit should not exceed a half month’s (two weeks) rent.

 

Does the Landlord have to show a prospective tenant proof of the last chargeable rent?

Yes! The landlord must show or provide the tenant with:

  • A copy of the Director’s Certificate or Notice of an Agreed Increase of Rent signed by the Director; or
  • A statement, in writing, of the lawful rent charged to the last tenant; or
  • A copy of a court order showing the lawful chargeable rent for the premises

 

Where can I find the ARV of a property?

The ARV of a property may be found at www.landvaluation.bm or on the Valuation List on display at your local post office or library.

 

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