Features of the Landlord Tenant Bill of 2018
"Landlord Tenant Bill"
The Parliament of Uganda
passed the Landlord Tenant Bill of 2018 on the 26th of June, 2019.
The purpose of the Bill is to regulate the relationship between the landlord
and the tenant, to reform and consolidate the law relating to letting of
premises, to provide for the responsibilities of landlords and tenants in
respect to the letting of premises and related matters.
Below is a concise review of
the key features of the Bill;
of the Tenancy Agreements
A tenancy agreement may be in writing,
by word of mouth, by a data message or implied from the conduct of the parties.
Under the new regime, it is prudent that where there is a consideration in
excess of Shs 500,000 (shillings five hundred thousand only) the tenancy
agreement must be in writing or in the form of a data message to be
Before executing a tenancy
agreement, the landlord is under the obligation to obtain a tenants’ national
identification card or alien’s identification card and the details of
registration or any other form of incorporation for the case of a legal person.
This will improve on the storage of data and reduce the current tensions where
tenants disappear leaving huge outstanding rent obligations.
It will resolve the issue of
informal arrangements that have for long dominated the real estate sector.
However it is noteworthy that the same Bill that seeks to address the current
problem of the informal arrangements leaves a lacuna by retaining the oral and
All rent obligations and
transactions should be made in Uganda Shillings unless otherwise provided under
any enactment or is lawfully agreed to between the parties. Whereas this
provision may cripple the real estate investment business especially for
commercial tenancies, it is seen as a drive to cubing the continued weakness of
the Uganda currency to the dollar.
The Bill restricts the payment
of more than 3 months’ rent in advance for a period of 1 month. However this
does not apply where the tenant in their own discretion in writing opt to pay
rent in advance beyond the period specified.
The Bill prohibits the Landlord
from increasing rent at a rate more than 10% annually or such percentage as may
be prescribed by the Minister in a Statutory Instrument. The landlord is
required to give 90 days’ notice in a prescribed form in case of any proposed rent
increment. Furthermore a landlord under a fixed term tenancy is prohibited from
increasing the rent before the fixed term expires unless the agreement provides
for a rent increase before the term expires.
The prohibition on unnecessary
and exaggerated rent increments will protect tenants from arbitrary rental
The Bill expressly empowers
the landlord to charge security deposit also referred to as security for costs provided
the same does not exceed one month’s rent. This is a protection to the
landlords who have had to incur extra expenses on repairs at the end of the
tenancy which would have otherwise been met by the tenants.
of taxes applicable;
The landlord is responsible
for the payment of all taxes and rates imposed by law. This will reduce on the
current exploitation of tenants by landlords.
for failure to pay rent;
The Bill abolishes the remedy
for distress for rent. A landlord may apply to court to recover unpaid rent and
reasonable costs. This will reduce the cruel evictions of tenants by landlords,
however the same subjects landlords to losses and extra expense incurred in
obtaining vacant possession.
on the right of entry;
The landlord must give a
tenant notice of not les than 20 hours before entering the premises. This will
promote the implied term of quiet possession for tenants and limit unnecessary
interruptions from landlords.
of the tenancy:
The notice period for termination
of business tenancies is not more than 12 months nor less than 6 months.
For residential purposes, the
tenancy may be terminated after 60 days’ notice for a year to year tenancy, 30
days’ notice for a monthly tenancy and 7 days’ notice for a weekly tenancy. This will reduce on the random terminations by
landlords once they have obtained better offers from highly paying tenants. However
it would appear to restrict commercial landlord’s ability to remove a
The enactment of the Bill is a
move in the correct direction for Uganda as it regulates the landlord and
tenant relationship that has for so long remained informal and largely
determined by market practice. The Bill is however inclined to protect tenants
as opposed to landlords. For this law to be relevant it must strike a balance
between the interests of both the tenants and the landlords. The Bill is
presently awaiting Presidential assent.