Landlords kick up fuss over new regulations

Landlords kick up fuss over new regulations

Beginning May 1, landlords will be barred from collecting more than one month's rent in advance, or from charging above state-provided prices for utilities. (Photo via Hipflat.co.th)
Beginning May 1, landlords will be barred from collecting more than one month's rent in advance, or from charging above state-provided prices for utilities. (Photo via Hipflat.co.th)

The owners of condominiums and houses renting their assets to tenants say the authorities did not properly inform them when making new leasing regulations that will take effect on May 1.

The regulations, drawn up by the Office of the Consumers' Protection Board, were announced in the Royal Gazette on Feb 16. The changes have created widespread panic among property owners, who say the regulations will make it harder for them to handle unscrupulous tenants.

This organic law covers owners of condominiums and houses renting more than five rooms to individual tenants. It will not cover dormitories or hotels.

The organic law prohibits owners from asking for more than one month's rent as a deposit and one month deposit to cover damage to chattels.

The owner is also prohibited from collecting electricity fees or water charges exceeding those of the state utility.

Tenants are allowed to terminate the lease agreement prior to the contract expiry, on condition they give a month's notice.

The law prevents owners from confiscating or moving the tenant's personal belongings even if he or she has not paid the rent or related service fees.

"The regulation is lopsided in favour of tenants. Property owners were not given a chance to raise their concerns. Now building owners wonder how they can deal with tenants who hop around and break the contract and leave without paying outstanding utility fees," said one property owner who asked not to be named.

The owner questioned the way the regulation was drafted. "Owners learned from information posted in social media in February. Why didn't the authority run a better PR campaign to let us know about public hearings? We learned later that the authority provided details of law at the consumers' protection board's website. In reality, who checks this website regularly?" said the owner.

A tenant named Chompoo Salilda wrote on Deeka na Sonjai (Interesting Decree), a popular Facebook page dedicated to the law, that law drafters should have listened to information from all sides and made a bigger effort to get stakeholders to join a public hearing.

"Residential leasing is becoming a big business in the country. Every law and regulation will affect people one way or another, and a law which is lopsided will lead to more severe impacts."

Surachet Kongcheep, a property analyst, said the regulations will help low-income tenants meet their rental bills but would have a negative effect on apartments and residential renting in general.

The regulations were written after a consumer protection board meeting on Dec 27.

Pikanet Tapuang, deputy secretary-general of the board, said that the office last year received 520 complaints from tenants, 213 of which were about getting deposits returned, 26 about the owner over-charging for damage, and the rest concerning contract violations.


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