By Omar Bah
The National Assembly Member for Serekunda West, Madi Ceesay, has announced that his private member’s bill seeking to amend the revised 2017 Rent Act will be tabled in September.
Speaking in a Star FM interview to be aired today, Mr Ceesay said the bill which will seek to strike a balance between landlords and their tenants is currently being drafted by the National Assembly Legal Department.
“I can assure Gambians and particularly my voters that the bill remains one of my top priorities because I know the difficulties tenants face. We have passed all the difficult stages now,” he said.
He disclosed that the assembly’s research department has done its research and furnished the members with information about what happens in countries like Senegal, Kenya and Ghana when it comes to laws dealing with rent.
“For instance, in Ghana and Kenya, the tenant who pays the rent is strictly protected by their Rent Act which is in complete contrast to what is happening in The Gambia,” he said.
Ceesay said The Gambia’s Rent Act which was revised in 2017 empowers the landlord more.
“Those are the lapses I realised in the Rent Act and that is why I want to come up with a private member’s bill to address them. I believe the issue of regulating rent is one of the most important things that we need in this country. [Unfortunately] we are doing all these piecemeal amendments because the current constitution is not fit for purpose,” he said.
He said if the bill passes the drafting stage, it will be gazetted and then tabled before the plenary as its passing will entirely depend on the whole house.
“I am hopeful that it will pass because the majority of the NAMs are also concerned about the issue of rent,” he added.
Ceesay however said the bill will not be unfair to landlords but will ensure fair treatment of all. He said the current law favours the landlords especially when it comes to advanced payments which sometimes goes up to six months.
“I think things like those should change. We also want to ensure that the bill provides for the establishment of a board that deals with increments of house rent. This is to ensure that the landlords don’t have the monopoly of increasing rent whenever they want,” he said.