BEIRUT: The Landlords Association called Wednesday for the republication of the new rent law, after the Constitutional Council rejected its existence over the weekend.
“The republishing in the Official Gazette is the duty of the prime minister’s General Secretariat in order to correct the publishing error, no more no less, along with the confirmation that the deadline to submit challenges is over,” Joseph Zgheib, the head of a Landlords Association, said at a news conference.
The legal date for publishing the new rent law was May 9, but it went to the printers on May 8 instead, one day before the end of the period during which Michel Sleiman, then president, had the right to issue it.
Lebanon’s Constitutional Council rejected the law, saying its publication represented a constitutional violation.
More than 200,000 apartments, mostly in Beirut, are estimated to be rented under the old law, which governs lease contracts enacted before 1993. Residents pay minimal rent fees that often amount to less than LL1,000,000 a year.
Under the new law, rents would increase incrementally until they reach 5 percent of the current market value of the apartment.
The rent law was passed by Parliament in April, stirring the anger of longtime tenants who took to the streets to protest the move. Opposing demonstrations were organized by landlords, who argued that the new law would allow them to finally be paid a proper rent fee.
Most longtime tenants have expressed their willingness to pay the increased rent, but they oppose the article of the new law that gives landlords the right to take back the property after nine years without paying tenants compensation
Zgheib reassured the tenants that they were “under the protection of the law, which rebalances the relationship between the landlord and the tenant.”
“We also assure them that we are keen to build better relations between the two sides, and there is no truth at all to the rumors citing the landlords’ intentions to displace tenants or throw them out on the streets.”
According to Zgheib, the new rent law will end the sale of older buildings in Beirut.
“As for now, with the beginning of the adoption of the new rent law, nobody can force longtime landlords to sell, and we confirm our strict adherence to preserving our properties in the face of material temptations,” he said.
He also called on the Cabinet to issue decrees with the law, particularly with regard to the fund to support low-income tenants.