In a major victory for tenants, rent disputes can now be taken up with the Rental Dispute Resolving Committee (RDRC) regardless of whether the contract was registered or not, a senior official said yesterday.
This follows amendments in the rental law.
Law number 20 of 2009 sees changes to some provisions of the previous law number 4 of 2008 issued by HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani on October 25, the official said adding it further protected the rights of tenants in Qatar.
“There are two things in the new rule: you can come here, whether or not your contract is registered and speak to a judge, and secondly the landlord must now give at least six months notice of eviction,” the official said.
The law number 4 of 2008 was aimed at regulating the market by making registration of rental contracts mandatory and by establishing the RDRC with its own jurisdiction to take up grievances at a time of near-record inflation in the country.
“But we know the law missed out on rental contracts made prior to the 2008 law or based on goodwill and word only. In these cases we weren’t able to address any complaint,” the official at the RDRC’s headquarters in Muntazah (now Rawdat al-Khail) said.
“This amendment changes all that,” he added.
However, according to him, with the rents showing declining trends, the number of disputes is also falling; currently only 15 new cases are being filed at the RDRC every day.
The nature of cases varies from landlords wanting to hike the rent despite a two-year freeze since 2008, to non-payment claims and eviction notices.
A year ago the RDRC was registering 1,500 cases a month.
The official also dismissed questions about the effectiveness of RDRC saying so far this year its five committees have addressed and closed 1,205 cases. Only “600 or so are ongoing,” he said.
The committees have three members and one judge each.
“Yes it is true that 50% of RDRC decisions are later challenged in the appeal court (in Dafna), but 90% of the time the judge there upholds the rulings,” the official said.
Veteran lawyer Ala’a Hamad, a partner at the Arab Law Forum, yesterday said every new law requires takes time to prove its effectiveness.
“This was a new law and the more it’s practiced, it will prove its effectiveness.
The tweaking is an ongoing process just as with foreign investment and other laws,” Hamad said.
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