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MPs, Minister Clash on Reconsideration of Landlord and Tenants Bill

The Bill that seeks to regulate the relationship between landlords and tenants was returned to Parliament by President Yoweri Museveni in January, more than a year after it was passed into law. But it was tabled afresh by the Minister of Lands Judith Nabakooba following guidance by the Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah that all returned bills had to be reconsidered.
Persis Namuganza, the appointed Minister of State for Lands after her vetting on Thursday.

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Members of the Physical Infrastructure Committee of Parliament have clashed with the State Minister for Housing regarding the consideration of the Landlord and Tenants Bill, 2021.

The Bill that seeks to regulate the relationship between landlords and tenants was returned to Parliament by President Yoweri Museveni in January, more than a year after it was passed into law. But it was tabled afresh by the Minister of Lands Judith Nabakooba following guidance by the Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah that all returned bills had to be reconsidered.

The Bill provided, among others, that rent for all premises in Uganda had to be charged in local currency, and that landlords could only evict tenants after securing a court order, and that landlords had to give tenants an eviction notice of six months. Unlawful evictions were set to attract a penalty of five million Shillings or a jail term of one year or both upon conviction.

However, President Yoweri Museveni returned the Bill and requested parliament to look at clauses that prohibit a tenant from being a nuisance to the occupier of the neighbouring building saying this might be hard to enforce given that the physical planning entity of local governments has not been able to separate residential areas from business areas. He also wanted an interpretation section between business premises and residential premises citing that due to the outbreak of COVID-19 parliament needs to factor in the emerging trend of home offices.

Today, members of the Physical Infrastructure committee of Parliament said that even though this was a returned Bill, they had been given only 10-days for its scrutiny, which was practically impossible because they had a number of new issues they needed to add to the Bill including penalties.

Some MPs led by Tororo Woman MP Sarah Opendi argued that since the President returned the Bill that had been gazetted in 2019 and the Minister presented a Bill that was gazetted in 2021, this should be looked at as a new Bill.

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But State Minister for Housing Persis Namuganza reminded the MPs to follow guidelines that were stipulated by the Speaker where he directed that when it comes to returned Bills, they should only look at the clauses the President complained about.

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Robert Kasolo, the Committee Vice Chairperson agreed with the Minister but the MPs insisted that they should consult the Speaker on his earlier ruling and challenges they have faced. Kasolo says that they have decided to scrutinize both the principal Bill which was gazetted in 2019 and the new Bill presented in 2021 and also meet the Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah for further guidance.

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