Highlights Of The Landlord-tenant Act, 2022
The relationship between landlord and tenant has for several years been governed by the Rent Restriction Act Cap 231, the Distress for Rent (Bailiffs) Act Cap 76 and the principles of the law of contract. The abovenamed statutes have been considered outdated having been enacted in 1949 and 1933 respectively, hence the need for a kind of law that is alive to contemporary circumstances. The Landlord and Tenant Bill 2021 was therefore passed by parliament and assented to by the president on the 12th day of April 2022 with the following objectives;
- To regulate the relationship of Landlord and tenant;
- To reform and consolidate the law relating to the letting of premises;
- To provide for the responsibilities of landlords and tenants in relation to the letting of premises and for related matters.
The Act applies to the letting of residential and business premises.
The Act DOESNOT apply to certain arrangements like residence at an institution, whether public or private where the residence is merely incidental to detention or to provision of medical, religious, recreational or similar services, residence in a hotel, motel or other transient lodging or occupancy of premises under a tenancy created or arising under the terms of a contract of employment or any premises entered into in relation to such a contract.
C. KEY HIGHLIGHTS:
1. FORM OF AGREEMENT:
1.1. The tenancy agreement may be in writing, by word of mouth or implied from conduct.
Section 3 of the Act permits the parties to set their own terms and execute an agreement based on such terms by modifying the prescribed form in schedule 2 of the Act so long as they do not set terms to exclude, restrict or modify any provision of the Act.
Even where the tenancy agreement is not in writing, the Landlord is obliged -in mandatory terms- to keep a record of the particulars of the parties, of the premises comprised in the tenancy, of the details of the immigration status in case of a non-citizen and of the details of the rent payable and the manner of payment.
A copy of this record shall be shared with the tenant within 14 days of the tenant taking vacant possession of the premises just like a copy of the Tenancy Agreement shall be shared with the Tenant upon its execution.
IMPLICATION: The import of the above provision is that any person whose particulars cannot be obtained for instance, an individual without a national identification card, driving permit, passport or certified student identification card, or a company without registration/incorporation documents shall not be permitted to enter into tenancy arrangements and any such arrangement entered into with such an individual or company shall be illegal and unenforceable in courts of law.
1.2. Tenancy Agreement of UGX 500,000 or more MUST be in writing.
Section 4 of the Act stipulates that for any tenancy agreement above the value of twenty-five currency points (Uganda shillings Five hundred thousand) to be enforced by action in court, it must be in writing or in form of a data message, the only exception being in the case where the party against whom it is sought to be enforced admits that the agreement was entered into.
IMPLICATION: The above provision implies that any tenancy agreement of the value above UGX 500,000 that is not in writing shall not be entertained in the courts of law. It shall be illegal and unenforceable except where the party against whom it is being enforced admits to have entered into it.
2. TERMS AND CONDITIONS IN TENANCY
2.1. Land lord must have and maintain the premises fit for human habitation.
A duty is bestowed upon the Landlord to ensure that the premises are fit for human habitation where the tenancy is for the letting of residential premises. Therefore Section 6 sets an implied term as to fitness for human habitation at the commencement of the tenancy and this state must be maintained throughout the tenancy in respect to the exterior parts and common areas of the premises.
IMPLICATION: The above provision implies that buildings/premises that do not meet the standards set under the Public Health Act or Building Control Act, 2013 or whose conditions are dire in terms of repair, stability, internal arrangements, natural lighting, ventilation, water supply, drainage and sanitary conveniences, facilities for preparation and cooking of food and for disposal of waste water, among others shall not be considered fit for human habitation and therefore should not be subject of any tenancy agreement.
The Landlord is permitted to enter the premises at reasonable times of the day upon giving twenty-four hours’ notice to the tenant for the purpose of viewing the state and condition of their premises.
2.2. Land lord must keep premises in repair and pay Taxes/rates
The land lord is obliged to keep the premises in good repair but this duty DOESNOT APPLY to repair of damage caused to the premises by the tenant’s negligence or failure to take reasonable care.
Where the tenant damages the premises or common areas, the Landlord shall serve the tenant with a notice to repair the damage. Where the tenant does not comply within a period of fourteen days, the land lord may repair the damage at the expense of the tenant. The landlord shall serve the tenant with particulars of the cost of repairs and the tenant shall reimburse the landlord within 14 days from the receipt of such particulars, or the cost of the repairs may be deducted from any rent advance received by the landlord.
Section 9 of the Act provides circumstances where the tenant may repair the premises especially when it is urgent to do so. In such circumstances, the tenant is entitled to reimbursement of the cost of repair within 14 days upon giving the landlord a written notice of the repairs carried out and particulars of the costs incurred with the relevant supporting evidence. Where the landlord does not reimburse the tenant, the tenant shall recover the costs from the rent due and payable immediately after the repairs are carried out.
There is implied in every tenancy a term that the landlord is responsible for the payment of all taxes and rates imposed by law in respect of the premises.
IMPLICATION: The above provisions imply that the primary responsibility to maintain and repair the premises and meet tax obligations lies with the Landlord in that even where the tenant assumes such responsibility, they are entitled to be reimbursed by the landlord save for where the damage has been caused by the tenant’s negligence.
3. UTILITY CHARGES
3.1. Liability for Utility charges.
According to Section 12, a tenant is liable for all charges in respect of the supply or use of electricity, gas, oil and similar services in respect of the tenant’s occupation of rented premises that are separately metered, except for the installation costs and charges in respect of the initial connection of the service to the rented premises.
On the other hand, the Landlord is liable for all charges in respect of the supply or use of electricity, gas or oil by the tenant at rented premises that are not separately metered.
In regards to water, the tenant is liable for the cost of all water supplied to the rented premises during the tenant’s occupancy if the cost is based solely on the amount of water supplied and the premises are separately metered. Where the premises are not separately metered but the cost of the water is only partly based on the amount of water supplied to the premises, the tenant is still liable for the cost.
Where the premises are separated but the charges not based on the amount of water supplied to particular premises or where the premises aren’t separated, the landlord remains liable for such payments.
The landlord is also liable for all charges related to supply of sewerage services or the supply or use of the drainage services to or at the rented premises.
IMPLICATION: The above provisions imply that the tenant takes responsibility for the charges on utilities he/she utilizes individually at his or her own premises and the landlord retains responsibility for payment of charges on utilities that are utilized collectively by all tenants.
4. DUTIES AND OBLIGATIONS;
4.1. For the tenant;
- The tenant shall not use the premises for unlawful purposes.
- The tenant shall not use the rented premises to cause a nuisance or interference. A ‘nuisance’ in this case includes any activity, condition or situation that interferes with another person’s use or enjoyment of his or her premises
- Tenant shall not damage the rented premises or common areas
- Tenant shall endeavor to keep the rented premises clean.
- Tenant shall not install fixtures or make alterations at the rented premises without the consent of the landlord, and where such fixtures or alterations are made, the tenant is liable to meet the costs of restoring the premises to the condition they were in before.
4.2. For the landlord;
- Landlord shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that the tenant has quiet enjoyment of the premises during the tenancy.
- Landlord shall not refuse to rent on grounds of sex, race, colour, ethnic origin, tribe, birth, creed or religion, social or economic standing, political opinion or disability.
5.1. Payment of Rent;
The tenant is obliged to pay rent on the date and in a manner agreed upon with the landlord and the landlord shall issue a receipt upon such payment.
A landlord letting out a business premise in a city or municipality is obliged in mandatory terms to provide the tenant with his/her bank account number into which all rent payments may be deposited.
The parties have the liberty to mutually determine the amount of rent and except where they otherwise agree, all rent obligations or transactions shall be expressed or settled in Uganda shillings.
IMPLICATION: The above provisions leave it to the landlord and tenant to determine the amount of rent and manner of payment. They also imply that for those owning business premises in cities or municipalities, they must open bank accounts and for those that intend to have the transactions done in any foreign currency, they must expressly agree upon that within the tenancy agreement.
5.2. Limit on payment of rent in advance;
Except where the tenant and landlord mutually agree otherwise, a landlord shall not require a tenant, in the case of a tenancy of more than one month, to pay rent more than three months in advance or in case of a tenancy of less than one month, to pay rent more than two weeks in advance.
5.3. Limit on increase of rent and notice:
Except where the parties to the tenancy otherwise agree in their tenancy agreement, a landlord shall not increase rent at a rate of more than ten percent (10%) annually.
The landlord shall give a notice of at least sixty (60) days in the prescribed form to the tenant of a proposed increase in rent.
A landlord under a fixed term tenancy shall not increase the rent before the term ends, unless the agreement provides for a rent increase within the fixed term.
A landlord shall not increase the rent payable under a tenancy at intervals of less than twelve months.
IMPLICATION: An increase of rent is invalid if it contravenes the above provisions. However, if the increase of rent is in accordance with the Act, it is valid especially when the tenant does not object or reach an agreement with the landlord for the increase to be effected, such tenant is deemed to have accepted the increment.
5.4. Decrease of rent:
The landlord shall decrease rent in certain cases for instance where the landlord ceases to provide any agreed service with respect to the tenant’s occupancy of the premises but such decrease must be proportionate to the decrease of the services.
5.5. Failure to pay rent by tenant and claims for rent arrears.
Where a tenant defaults in paying rent and is in arrears, the landlord may apply to a court of competent jurisdiction to recover the rent owed. Without prejudice to the above right, where the default continues for a period of more than thirty (30) days, the landlord shall be entitled to re-enter the premises and take possession in the presence of an area local council official and the police.
6. ASSIGNMENT AND SUBLEASE
6.1. Assignment and sublease:
The tenant will need the written consent of the landlord to assign or sublease the tenancy and the landlord shall not unreasonably withhold such consent.
IMPLICATION: Any assignment or sublease without the consent of the landlord is invalid and immediately terminates the tenancy.
7. TERMINATION OF TENANCY
The Act provides for various forms of termination of the tenancy to be;
- Termination by agreement.
- Termination by vacation of premises with the consent of the landlord
- Termination by expiry of term where it is a fixed term tenancy or if it is one based upon the occurrence of an event, termination by occurrence of such event.
- Termination after notice in accordance with the Act or the tenancy agreement.
In a residential tenancy, notice of termination in case of a weekly tenancy shall be seven days’ notice, in case of a monthly tenancy, thirty days’ notice and in case of a tenancy from year to year, sixty days’ notice
The landlord and tenant may agree upon a notice period exceeding the above mentioned but not below as any such term that suggests a lesser notice period shall be void.
- Termination by abandonment. This happens where the tenant leaves the premises permanently without terminating the tenancy agreement. This shall however not prejudice the landlord’s right to recover any accrued rent or charges.
A tenant is taken to have permanently abandoned the premises where;
- He/she has been absent from the premises for at least thirty (30) consecutive days without notifying the landlord and the rent has not been paid.
- At least fifteen days have passed since the rent was due and it remains unpaid and it appears to the landlord that the tenant has vacated the premises without paying rent.
- Upon the death of a sole tenant, the tenancy terminates.
IMPLICATION: A tenancy may be terminated in any of the above ways and a tenant whose tenancy terminates shall immediately vacate the premises.
Section 41 allows either the tenant or landlord to challenge a termination of a tenancy agreement in court, where upon being successful, Court may order the reinstatement of the tenancy or award of damages or any other remedy it may deem fit.
The landlord has a right to re-enter the premises and take possession in the presence of the area local council officials and police where the tenant refuses to vacate the premises upon termination of the tenancy.
Where the tenant is unlawfully evicted, not in accordance with the Act or the terms of the tenancy agreement, the tenant is entitled to challenge such eviction in court which may order the landlord to pay to the tenant the equivalent of three (3) months’ rent payable as compensation among other reliefs.
Looking at it generally, the Act introduces key provisions meant to regulate the landlord and tenant relationship but doesn’t not require mandatory observance of a number of them when it clouds the same with a number of exceptions and reasserts the liberty for the parties to revert to their own terms as set within the tenancy agreement. This still leaves a lacuna as it gives the party with a higher bargaining power- more often the landlord-an upper hand in determining the rules and regulations to govern the relationship yet leave the weaker one in a “take it or leave it” kind of situation that we all thought the Act had determined to pull the tenant out of.
 Sections 31 and 32
 Section 43
 Section 21
 Section 22
 Section 24
 Section 26
 Section 29
 Section 14
 Section 15
 Section 16
 Section 17
 Section 18
 Section 19
 Section 20
 Section 10 of the Act.
 Also read Section 11(1) of the Act.
 From the preamble of the Act