By Jerry Roker
for Bahamas Press
Our laws need to be amended so as to give the landlord some level of protection by the law. The landlord is left to the mercy of the tennant, some of whom are unreasonable and dishonest.
While I agree that tenants must be protected, so too must be the landlord, many of whom have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars on houses, rent to tenants so as to have a monthly income and in some instances have a mortgage to pay.
Let’s put it this way- a person approaches you, the landlord, very politely and discuss the rental of a house or apartment. The couple may have an infant or small children accompanying them and after discussions and inspections of the premises, an agreement oral or written by the parties is reached, a decision that at times is influenced by the presence of those little children.
You the landlord hands over the keys to the tenant, without any notice by a lawyer the intervention of the court, or appearance by the bailiff through any order made by the court and in most cases, the said night your tenant occupies that premises.
The agreed sum is paid as per agreement but only for a few months, and thereafter you hear a lot of sad or hanky panky stories. Your tenant may start to behave in a hostile manner towards you when you ask for your rent.
The law as presently constituted is loaded in favor of the tenant and if you want to cut your losses, you have to behave in a somewhat unreasonable manner toward the tenant, by commencing the eviction process after their failure to pay say one month’s rent on the due date. Failure to do so can and often does end in substantial uncollectible arrears.
It can take months to bring closure to matters involving delinquent tenants. After a few appearances the court awards judgment by consent and grant the defendant time to pay the outstanding sum and to vacate the building. That time can be three months or more and can be extended by the discretion of the Magistrate. The months go by without the tenant paying, then, move out during the cover of darkness.
A judgment summons can be applied for and when obtained has to be served personally on the defendant who would evade service of same.
Landlord/Tenant laws are archaic and designed to frustrate the landlord. Imagine those small children that your tenant had accompanying them, and had greatly influenced the Landlord’s decision to rent to those defendants. Those same children, the defendant through his/her lawyer would influence the court’s decision.
Make no mistake there are some unreasonable landlords and the tenant must be offered protection by law, but so too must be the landlord. After about an hour discussion, and an agreement oral or written the tenant moves in, but to move out after they would have defaulted, in many ways it takes months of court battle and hefty sums paid to your lawyer; sometimes you never get your money (rent).
I was told by a senior lawyer that during the colonial years, the rich used to build houses and rent to the poor, who were at times exploited in many ways, so the framers of the law offered the tenant massive coverage. But things have changed. Now you have people renting houses and apartments to persons whose financial status is sound or better, than them (the landlord).