Renters protest the new law. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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A controversial law passed in March that formally put an end to old rent agreements has been largely suspended, lawyers and syndicates say, due to the government's inability to issue a fund that would provide monetary compensation to the vacated tenants.Under the law, published on March 1 in the Official Gazette, owners can enforce an incremental increase of the rent paid by old rent tenants and eventually evict them.Article 58, however, protects the rights of tenants whose family nucleus earns less than five times the minimum wage ($2,250), who cannot, therefore, be evicted or subject to a rent hike without receiving government compensation. Protests were staged in Beirut, where most of the old-rent properties are located.Despite the absence of a fund, a few properties have already been vacated, with owners who want renters to move out reaching a financial agreement with their tenants. Properties under the old rent law have been immune to market price hikes and in many cases rent amounts to less that LL1 million ($667) a year, contributing to Zoghaib's view that owners have been trapped in an unprofitable situation and want to reclaim their properties.
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