BEIRUT: Lebanon's Constitutional Council rejected several articles in the controversial new rent law Wednesday, a judicial source said, further drawing out the prolonged battle over the issue.
The council's action means that the law, which was republished in June in the Official Gazette after a previous rejection by the council, means that the law can’t go in to effect in four months as scheduled, the source told The Daily Star Thursday.
The head of the lawyer committee challenging the rent law, Adib Zakhour, said that the law would not go in to effect until it was reviewed by Parliament.
“The law is being returned because it didn’t receive the approval of the Cabinet and because the Constitutional Council revoked three articles in the law,” Zakhour told The Daily Star.
Zakhour clarified that the Constitutional Council previously accepted the “form” of the law at the time of its publication in the Official Gazette, adding that the revocations were concerned with the contents of the controversial bill.
The lawyer said that the three revoked articles probably deal with rent compensation, the aid fund benefitting tenants whose income is less than three times the minimum rent and the article designating a special committee to resolve disputes between the tenants and the landlords.
“Parliament will submit revisions to the law and will redraft it in a way that doesn’t enforce the removal of people from their homes,” he concluded.
The head of the Syndicate of Landlords, Joseph Zoghaib, said that the law would still go into effect by virtue of its publication in the Official Gazette. He did add, however, that the Constitutional Council revoked the special committee, so that any dispute would be referred to the relevant judicial authority rather than a specialized council designated with that task.
According to the new law, tenants under pre-1992 rental contracts will face rent increases in yearly increments over a six-year period, until annual rents reach 5 percent of the current market value of the house.
After being approved by Parliament this spring, the law was published in the Official Gazette a day early, which lead to the Constitutional Court rejecting it. Then-President Michel Sleiman had challenged the law and asked the court to review its constitutionality, but the panel rejected both the law and the challenge because of the premature publishing of the law.
However, the law was republished in the Official Gazette in June, which meant that it was set to go in to effect six months after the date of its publication.