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Call for stay on freeze

Nasik Swami
Wednesday, April 16, 2014

THE decision by the Commerce Commission to lift the freeze on domestic rents would see an explosion of rent increases and cause more hardship for people already struggling with high living costs, says the Fiji Labour Party.

Party president Lavinia Padarath said the party also denounced the call by the commission for landlords to register their properties.

"This is just another instance of over-regulation by the authorities," Ms Padarath said.

"There is already too much interference, particularly with small business enterprises."

Ms Padarath said the requirement for registration of property ownership would be an imposition and was unnecessary.

"Domestic rent freeze was introduced to stop landlords from taking undue advantage of Fiji's serious housing shortage problem.

"Should domestic rents skyrocket, as is likely to happen if the freeze is lifted, people in the lower income bracket unable to afford higher rents will be forced to move to squatter settlements."

Commission chairman Dr Mahendra Reddy said the restriction on property owners to increase rent needed to be removed.

Dr Reddy said under a new proposal, all property owners would have to register with the commission, which will introduce price control on rent.

"We want to get rid of the rent freeze. The property is an investment and we want to see investments becoming successful," he said.

"But this has to be done the right way. You can't be charging an amount not worthy of the house or the property.

"This is a very crucial issue. Housing is a very crucial issue."

Dr Reddy said the system would allow for owners to increase rent but they would have to justify the increase.

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