BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt will not challenge a controversial new rent bill that President Michel Sleiman refused to sign, a statement from the owners of old rent law buildings said.
The owners said Jumblatt recently told a delegation of the owners that his parliamentary bloc would not challenge the bill that was published in the Official Gazette last week.
Lawmakers and the president have 15 days to challenge the law after it was published in the Official Gazette on May 8.
“After the delay, the new rent bill emerges as an effective law and would be implemented six months later,” Lawyer Nizar Saghiyeh told The Daily Star.
Although Sleiman refused to sign the bill last week, arguing that it was unfair, he did not return it to Parliament for reconsideration, a necessary step to prevent the law from going to effect.
Saghiyeh said that even if Sleiman had returned the draft bill to Parliament, he might not be been able to prevent it a second time, as his term is nearly over.
“Parliament might just endorse the law once again as is and refer it to the next president to sign it,” he said. “However, President Michel Sleiman still has the chance to challenge the law."
Parliament passed dozens of draft bills in a series of sessions earlier this year. The president has signed all of the laws except the controversial draft rent bill.
Tenants have said that the law would displace thousands of families who rent in Beirut under an old law that governs lease contracts enacted before 1993.
Inhabitants pay minimal rent fees that often amount to less than LL1,000,000 annually. Under the new law, rents would increase over six years until they reach 5 percent of the current market value of an apartment. Owners have the freedom to either sell the apartment or lease it under a new contract and price.