BEIRUT: Landlords called on House Speaker Nabih Berri to investigate allegations that real estate companies pressured ministers to abstain from signing a challenge to the controversial new rent law in a meeting Saturday.
“The Syndicate of Landlords rejects these allegations that came during a mobilization of tenants ... and regards these claims as a blatant attack on the dignity of ministers and their honorable legislative track records,” a statement released by the syndicate said.
The landlords requested that Berri and members of his office open an investigation into the accusations and carry out the necessary measures to prevent a repetition of such charges.
The syndicate confirmed that it had “conducted the necessary calls with parliamentary blocs on behalf of the Syndicate of Landlords to explain its position on the appeal of the law, in an effort to halt the smear campaign practiced by groups that claim to represent tenants.”
With regards to a scuffle that broke out between one of the lawyers and a landlord outside the Constitutional Council Friday, the statement said that the “minor conflict with the lawyer Adib Zakhour started and ended with the lawyer’s arrival at the council, and it is shameful for media outlets to exaggerate the incident for clear and obvious gains.”
Landlords said that Friday’s mobilization outside the council was not meant as an attack on the council itself, but instead it was warning for ministers not to challenge the new rent law.
Dozens of landlords gathered outside the Constitutional Council Friday as lawyers representing tenants’ interests arrived to submit a fresh challenge to the law.
The controversial new rent law is set to go into effect in six months after being republished in the Official Gazette last month.
The current law would raise rents incrementally over six years until annual rents hit 5 percent of the home’s market value, which would be determined by court-approved appraisers.
According to the new rent law, landlords would be free to evict longtime tenants after a nine year period, even if tenants are paying the increased rent.
The law also calls for the establishment of a special fund to subsidize rent for low-income tenants, while extending the eviction period to 12 years instead of nine.