BEIRUT: Landlords gathered Friday outside the Constitutional Council protesting a challenge to the new rent law, which is set to go into effect in six months after being republished in the Official Gazette last month.
Dozens of landlords held banners in support of the law, urging lawmakers to refrain from signing the challenge.
A scuffle took place between one of the lawyers and a landlord after the two exchanged verbal insults.
According to the law, the Constitutional Council has 10 days to file a review of the law after it receives the challenge.
One of the protesters representing landlords expressed hope that the council would be fair to the owners of buildings who "have been renting apartments for the lowest possible amount for 80 years."
Patrick Rizkallah, a member of the Landlords Committee, said Friday’s protest was against the lawmakers who signed the challenge.
"There are 16,000 buildings at risk of collapse and their signature will force such a collapse," he told reporters at the protest.
The law has been at the center of a controversy since it was proposed by the Cabinet two years ago. Tenants have argued that the bill would displace thousands of families who rent in Beirut under the old rent law.
Inhabitants with contracts signed before 1992 pay minimal rent fees that often amount to less than LL1,000,000 annually.
The publication in the Official Gazette last month came two weeks after the Constitutional Court said an earlier publication of the bill in May was invalid, leaving the panel unable to rule on its constitutionality after former President Michel Sleiman requested the bill be reviewed.
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.