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How to get rent security refunds

By Vision Reporter

Added 21st May 2010 03:00 AM

When Ruth was leaving her former residence, her landlord made no mention of the fee she had paid as security at the time she moved into the house. She is one of tenants who lose money when leaving houses they have been living in.

By Stella Nassuna

When Ruth was leaving her former residence, her landlord made no mention of the fee she had paid as security at the time she moved into the house. She is one of tenants who lose money when leaving houses they have been living in.

This fee is payable to the landlord together with the rest of rent fee just before you enter the house. It is refundable only if there is no damage done to the premises during the agreed tenancy period.

The security fee varies from landlord to landlord. However, many tenants have lost the security fee since in most cases they are not given reciepts to comfirm the payment.

One tenant says she paid sh100,000 in addition to her three-month rent (sh900,000). Mubiru, also a tenant, says he paid an extra month as security fee.

One tenant admits having successfully recovered her security fee of sh200,000 on the day she vacated the premises.

Bob, a secondary school teacher says that he only managed to get half of it back because the landlady took off sh40,000 to meet the electricity bills leaving him with sh40,000 off the sh80,000 security.

Bob and Sharon are lucky to have honest landlords. But what if your landlord does not mention the security fee as you leave the house? How can you guarantee the refund? Is there a law that protects tenants? Or a law that gives them power to sue landlords if they fail to refund the said security fee? Is it necessary for it to be demanded anyway?

Veronica Nakityo, a lawyer says: “It is lawful for landlords to impose the security fee term upon their tenants as long as the said fee is fair, just and reasonable in the circumstances because most tenants often leave the premises in a bad state.”

Some tenants often breach the terms of tenancy agreement. Some are destructive and leave the property destroyed.

Others vandalise the house property on purpose. Others steal sockets or even flee the house without meeting their water and electricity bills.

At the end of the day, it is the landlord who suffers. Therefore having this security fee is such big relief to them,” she adds.

Nakityo says landlords should have written tenancy agreements containing well defined terms that must be legal, just; fair and that conform to the rules of natural justice and good conscience before they are handed to the tenant. The tenant must be kin in order to truly appreciate all the terms of the tenancy agreement before signing it.

“This is because once the contract is signed all the terms it contains bind the tenant and landlord and must be respected no matter what. It is only when the said agreement has got reservations fully defined in there that both parties can base on to decline the said payment,” Nakityo says.

In order for the tenant to be on the safe side’ the security fee term must clearly be defined in the contract.

In case of breach of the contract by the landlord, the tenant can sue the landlord in a civil suit for breach of contract on the term of the security fee.

Nakityo explains that the tenant can seek redress in the civil courts of law for the award of the common law remedies.

She also notes that the tenant can sue the landlord or landlady for breach of the security term even where there was no written contract.

The tenant, however, has to prove to the court the existence of that said security agreement or contract either by help of witness or receipts issued to him by the landlord upon the payment this money in accordance to Contract Act.

How to get rent security refunds

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