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Tenant’s Responsibilities In A Tenancy Relationship

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
21 Mar 2016 10:28
Tenant’s Responsibilities In A Tenancy  Relationship
Tenancy

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 landlord’s responsibities in a tenancy relationship.

 

Who is a tenant?

A tenant is an adult who has signed a lease or rental agreement (or has an oral rental agreement) with a landlord to rent property, such as an apartment, condo, or house. The tenant has a legal relationship with the landlord that creates various responsibilities for both parties.

Under the Commerce Commission Decree 2010 (CCD2010), it refers to a ‘consumer’ as a person who in relation to a particular transaction, whether a separate contract or separate transaction within a contract acquires goods or services. “Services” under CCD2010 include any rights (including rights in relation to, and interests in, real or personal property. A tenant renting an apartment, condo, or house is bestowed the right of occupancy upon payment of a sum termed as rent to the property owner or landlord including their agents.

A tenant is protected under Section 15 and Part 7 of the CCD2010 whereas the amount he/she pays to the landlord is controlled under Section 45, in which currently a rent freeze is in place by virtue of the Commerce (Rent Increase Restriction on Residential and Ground Rent) Order 2015 and the preceding orders dating back to 2 March 2007.

 

Tenant’s responsibilities before a tenancy starts?

  • Ensure that he has a genuine intention, soundness of judgment and affordability to engage a property for rent;
  • Ensure that the person he is negotiating with has proper legal authority by law to be discussing on the terms and conditions of the tenancy including signing of the agreement, accepting of payment and issuing of receipts. Request to sight documentary evidence of ownership;
  • Ensures that he/she understands and is fully informed of the rights and responsibilities of tenants as prescribed by law;
  • Thoroughly inspect the property and seek expert advice on the physical conditions like ventilation, waste system, structural status including general compliance to municipal council requirements;
  • Ensures that he/she actively and directly engages with the landlord or his agent to discuss on the terms and conditions of the proposed tenancy and;
  • Ensures that he/she fully understands the terms and conditions of the tenancy agreement and have his/her witness present before signing the same;
  • Ensures that a condition is prepared by the landlord and he/ she reads and understands the content before signing;
  • Demand for a copy of the condition report of the premises from landlord after signing;
  • Pay the required entry ees as per the agreement and obtain a receipt for the same;
  • Move into the premises immediately after payment and observe the terms and conditions of stay.

 

Tenant’s responsibilities during a tenancy?

  • Ensures that he/she pays the required rent and bills on time;
  • Ensures to keep the premises clean and tidy at all times;
  • Not to do any work of adjustment, installations or repairs on the premises without the consent of the landlord.
  • Not to cause any damage to the premises and if he/she does then notify the landlord, immediately;
  • Not to abuse the premises or allow any form of illegal or immoral activities to be conducted inside the premises;
  • Not to convert the use of the premises without the approval of the landlord;
  • Not to sublease the premises or part thereof without prior consent of the landlord;
  • Not to cause excessive noise or big gatherings without notifying the landlord in advance;
  • Respect the neighbors including maintaining peace within the area at all times and not become a source of dispute or discord with others;
  • Conduct routine inspection of the premises after sufficient notice is given to the tenant before the exercise;
  • Not to abandon the premises or leave it unattended for long periods without reasonable cause or notice to the landlord.
  • Strictly observe the other terms and conditions stipulated in the tenancy agreement.
  • Issue proper written notice to the landlord should he/she be intending to terminate the tenancy or vacates the premises.

 

Tenant’ss responsibilities at the end of a tenancy?

  • Engage with landlord in preparing the closing condition report of the premises and obtain a copy after its endorsement;
  • Clean the premises thoroughly and ensure bills, rent or damages are cleared before leaving;
  • Discuss issues relating to the bond refund with the landlord or agent and do a written agreement on the amount and time of refund. Should the parties fail to reach a settlement, then the matter to be pursued privately in a court of competent jurisdiction.
  • Hand over all keys issued to the landlord or agent before leaving the premises.

 

What can tenant do if the Landlord fails to carry out repairs?

  • The tenant may himself/herself carry out the repairs and may deduct the reasonable cost of so doing from any rent payable or to become payable by him to the landlord/agent.
  • However, for any repair work carried out by the tenant after 30 days of the notice, proper receipts must be produced to the landlord/tenants for costs incurred.

 

Next Week:

Ending an Agreement

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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