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Advice To Both Tenants And Landlords

Fiji Commerce Commission (“FCC”) is an independent government statutory body established under Section 7 of the Commerce Commission Decree 2010. Its function is to ensure the integrated framework for the
07 Mar 2016 16:03
Advice To Both Tenants And Landlords
Tenancy Agreement

Fiji Commerce Commission (“FCC”) is an independent government statutory body established under Section 7 of the Commerce Commission Decree 2010.

Its function is to ensure the integrated framework for the regulation of monopoly market structures; encourage competition, prevent restrictive trade practices, ensure consumer protection, and undertake pricing of public utilities and other price controlled items. The Commission principle agency for all competition and consumer protection issues enforcement in Fiji.

This week the Commission is covering some very pertinent issues relating to tenants, tenancy agreements and the laws associated with it.

 

What is a tenancy agreement?

A tenancy agreement is a contract between a tenant and a landlord. It sets out all the terms and conditions about the tenancy and also spells out the duties and obligations of the parties to the agreement. The contract outlines all the things that the landlord and tenant have agreed before the commencement of any tenancy.

 

Tenancy agreements must be in writing

Under the Commerce (Rent Increase Restriction on Residential and Ground) Order 2015 it is mandatory for landlords to issue proper agreements. This means that every tenancy agreement must be in writing, and the landlord must give the tenant a duly signed copy before the tenancy begins.

 

What happens if a Landlord fails/refuses to provide a written Agreement?

First and foremost it is an offence and the landlord can be spot fined up to $3000.00 under the Commerce Commission Decree 2010.

The relevant laws, rights and obligations of the landlord and tenant apply even if a tenancy agreement isn’t in writing. This means a landlord and a tenant can’t avoid their obligations under the law by refusing to put their agreement in writing.

 

When should the agreement be given?

The landlord must provide a copy of the unsigned agreement to the tenant before the same is finalized and signed off. The agreement must be finalsed before any payments are received and prior to letting the tenant into the rental property.

It is unfair for the tenant to be given the agreement for first viewing after they have moved in. This may cause disagreement about the terms and conditions and affect the relationship from the very beginning.

Tenants should make sure they read the tenancy agreement carefully before they sign it, so they understand all the terms and conditions of the tenancy. If there’s anything they don’t understand, or are unsure of, they should seek advice before they sign the agreement.

 

Who is responsible for preparing a tenancy agreement?

The agreement must be provided by the landlord at his/her cost unless any laws requires otherwise. Landlords must ensure that the stamp duties are paid and the agreements are stamped.

 

 

Prohibited Terms and Conditions

A residential tenancy agreement must not contain (unfair, landlord-biased against the right of an individual) onerous terms and conditions.

 

Terms and conditions having the following effects must not be included in a residential tenancy agreement:

  • Visitors not allowed;
  • Gate will be locked after certain time;
  • Restrictions on the number of visitors allowed;
  • Restrictions on peaceful family, religious gathering and functions;
  • That the tenant must take out a specified, or any form of insurance;
  • Exempting the landlord from liability for any act or omission by the landlord, the landlord’s agent or any person acting on behalf of the landlord or landlord’s agent;
  • That, if the tenant breaches the agreement, the tenant is liable to pay all or any part of the remaining rent under the agreement,  increased  rent, a penalty  or liquidated damages; and
  • Bond money will not be refunded if the tenant pre-maturely ends the tenancy or tenant is in breach of the agreement.

 

Advice to Landlords and Tenants

  1. Landlords must keep a copy of the agreement together with rent receipts for a period not less than 3 years from the date it originated;
  2. Do not engage in any tenancy without a written agreement
  3. Any illegal increase of rent and failure to keep rent records should be reported to the Commission immediately
  4. Both parties are to exercise respect, dialogue and reasonableness whilst the tenancy is in force and action taken to be done within the ambit of the laws of Fiji.
  5. Sample tenant agreement is available on the Commission website.

What can be the major contents of a tenancy Agreement?

 

 

 

Next Week:

Landlords Responsibilities

For more information/details on price regulation in Fiji, visit our website on www.commcomm.gov.fj  or join us on Facebook as Fiji Commerce Commission.

If there are any topics you would like for the commission to address, please email your queries to: rachnal@fijisun.com.fj.

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