A big change is taking place at the rent tribunals as the Rent ACT 2014 comes into force. The complaints we received continue unaddressed because the new law has not been institutionalized. However, at least one person, who had lodged a complaint with Foroyaa, did call to explain that he had been asked to go back to receive moneys he had already paid, because the proceedings took place under the 2010 Act which has already been repealed.
This compelled us to go to the Printers to find out whether the Rent Act had been enacted and gazetted. A review of the Act reveals that it is now the Minister of Justice, and not the Mayors and Governors, who appoints Chairpersons of Rent Tribunals after consultation with the Chief Justice, but that the Chairperson must be a first class magistrate. Obviously, good laws are made to avoid ambiguity and cumbersomeness. A Magistrate is part of the Judiciary. It should have been left to the Chief Justice to appoint Magistrates to serve as Chairpersons of Rent Tribunals. The Public Service Commission should have been left to appoint the rest of the members. The Registrars of the expiring Magistrate’s Courts should have continued to serve the tribunals instead of a Minister appointing the Registrar.
A Rent tribunal is not a Commission of enquiry but a court. Hence the freer the court is from political influence, the more independent it becomes.
It is a welcome reform that appeal from the tribunal shall lie with the high court.