Urbanization has made ‘renting’ one of the most common and convenient accommodation options for city dwellers. As of 2015, the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) has collected information on nearly 1.5m tenants living in Dhaka city alone. This number is growing everyday as the influx of population worsens in our cities. Even with such a significant number of tenants, very few are aware of the laws that are meant to protect their rights.

It may come as a surprise for many, but Bangladesh has very well defined tenant laws that ensure fair rights for both landlords and the tenants. It is known as the Premises Rent Control Act 1991, comprised of a total of 36 sections.

Tenancy Contract:

Before a landlord rents out their place it is mandatory to enter into a written contract with the tenants. In most cases, after this contract is finalized, the tenant is usually provided a photocopy of the deed while the original copy is kept with the landlord. It is important to note, the photocopy will not be accepted in court is case legal protection is sought by the tenant.

This contract paper allows the agreement between two parties be unalterable and therefore enforceable by law. This contract is beneficial for both parties as this ensures proper conduct and serves as proof in case of any mishaps. Therefore, tenants should ask for this written contract if they haven’t already.

Rent Receipt:

Every time a tenant pays the monthly rent, it is imperative for the landlord to provide a receipt in exchange. This receipt should be saved by both parties as a record and proof of regular payment of rent. This is an obligation mainly from the landlord’s part. According to section 27 of the Act, the landlord can be made to pay a fine amounting up to double the quoted rent, if they refuse to provide the receipt.

Fixing the Rent:

How many of the tenants know what determines the rent of the place they are living in? Is it based on the area or the market rate?

According to the Act, the rent of the place ideally should be 15% of the total cost of land and construction for a house. Then the location, space, market price will come into play. This law is ignored by most people and even unheard of in some cases.

Advance Rent Payment:

Landlords in our cities usually ask for an advance payment of 2/3 months’ rent. But legal provisions only allow an advance payment of one month’s rent. Even after the advance payment is made, the tenant must provide the rent within the scheduled time. Otherwise the court will declare the tenant as a defaulter and will order to clear the rent within the next 15 days.

Increasing Rent:

This is perhaps the most annoying aspect of being a tenant. The rent goes up every other month, without any reason or prior warning. According to a survey conducted by the Consumers’ Association of Bangladesh (CAB) in 2008, house rent in Dhaka city has increased by 285 per cent during the last 18 years. This action is in fact illegal. The law clearly states that house rent cannot be increased unless the house has gone through renovation or remodeling. The increase of house rent should not only be based on the construction cost of the place but it should also consider the depreciation value of the house as well.

The laws are formulated to ensure fair conduct from all parties. However, they are still lacking a lot in terms of implementation. When landlords and the tenants are ignorant about their rights and responsibilities, unnecessary difficulties arise.

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