Sunday, January 6, 2019

PERSONS WHO have been denied opportunities to rent properties because they have children are not seeking redress by reporting the dis- crimination to the Rent Assessment Board of Jamaica. The board was established to pro- vide a framework for the business of renting properties, and to resolve the disputes that arise between landlords and tenants. It is quasi-judicial in its proceedings and has similar powers to that of a parish court to ensure that all parties act in accordance with the Rent Restriction Act. But despite several allegations of landlords ignoring the law by refusing to rent to persons with children, Authrine Scarlett, senior director for housing management in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, told The Sunday Gleaner that the Rent Assessment Board has not received any such report. RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES According to Scarlett, there are steps in place for the board to take action if it receives any such report. “Both the landlord and the tenant would be informed of their respective rights and responsibilities based on the provisions of Section 4A of the Rent Restriction Act. “The landlord would also be advised of the implications if this sec- tion of the act is contravened,” said Scarlett. She added that the board conducts outreach programmes across the island from time to time to educate and inform landlords and tenants about their rights and responsibilities. THE SUNDAY GLEANER, JANUARY 6, 2019 A2 | NEWS BAN ON BABIES Carlene Davis Sunday Gleaner Writer T HE RENT Restriction Act of 1983 makes it illegal for land- lords to discriminate against potential tenants on the basis that they have children, but scores of landlords are banning the babies and getting away with it. Under Section 4A Subsection 1 of the Rent Restriction Act, “A person shall not, as a condition for the grant, renewal or continuance of a tenancy of any controlled premises consisting of a dwelling house, require that no chil- dren shall reside with the tenant in that dwelling house.” This offence carries a fine not exceeding $1,000 for a first conviction or a term not exceeding 12 months imprisonment. But that has not saved 28-year-old Anna-Kay Williams, who told The Sunday Gleaner that she been almost homeless since July 2018, as the owners of the properties she has been trying to rent are turning her down because she has four children ranging from age three to 15. CHANGE OF HEART According to Williams, in her last encounter she saw an advertisement in the paper which just said ‘Room for rent in Greater Portmore, St Catherine’, with the landlord asking for $25,000 per month plus a deposit. Williams said she made contact with the landlord and after a positive discus- sion went with her money to pay, but when she mentioned her children, the landlord had a change of heart. “I told her it was me and my family, and she asked what I meant by family. When I said ‘me and my kids’, she said ‘No, I can’t rent my house to anybody with kids’,” alleged Williams. She said when she told the landlord about her situation and how urgent was the need for a place to live, the response was, “Me can’t help you. Me no really want nobody with no pickney.” Williams charged that the common answer from landlords to her is that chil- dren will destroy their premises, while the ones who are OK with children are charging rents that she cannot afford. She noted that several of the adver- tisements in the newspapers say single person, working professional or simply no children. “Them go as far as to tell me that it’s a Christian and quiet home, so them don’t want any children there,” said Williams. While she continues to house hunt, Williams and her children have been staying in a one-bedroom apartment which belongs to her ex-boyfriend, but he has been demanding that they leave. Williams is employed as a janitor on a contract which expires in July, and she is desperately seeking a place for her family. But one landlord who will not be offering her a place is James Johnson*, who has been renting his properties in the Corporate Area for the past 25 years. According to Johnson, while he is not against children, it’s a risk land- lords take when renting their property to persons with children. COLLATERAL DAMAGE “Clearly, there is a certain freedom that children need. It’s not like you don’t want them at your place, but there is certain collateral damage that comes with a child,” Johnson told The Sunday Gleaner . “The children impose that extra bur- den of repair and maintenance. There is a greater pressure on the house and the facility. Children write on the walls and damage pipes. “Most times landlords will rent higher so that they can cover the damage if there is any,” added Johnson. But president of the Realtors Association of Jamaica, Andrew James, has scoffed at the claim that some land- lords fear that the children will destroy their property. “It’s clear that if you are renting a property you should rent the property. If you are concerned about the property being destroyed and so on, there are steps available to protect you and your property, but you should not come out and say ‘no children allowed’,” said James. “What is going to happen if there are no children allowed? So I have my kids and we won’t be able to live anywhere? That’s what you’re saying? No, the act speaks to it,” added James. *Name changed on request. Landlords illegally refusing to rent to persons with children LIONEL ROOKWOOD/PHOTOGRAPHER Landlords illegally refusing to rent to persons with children. Report those rogues FILE From left: Rose Bennett-Cooper, chair of the Rent Assessment Board; Authrine Scarlett, senior director for housing management, Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation; Patricia Ramsaran, legal officer in the ministry, listen to Vincent Haldane, senior director, Land Administration Unit in the ministry, during a public consultation on the amendments to the Rent Restriction Act last year. Rent Restriction Board ready to act against landlords who ban children Step up demand for improvements in the justice system Lawyers plan protest in Grenada THE GRENADA Bar Association (GBA) is to lead a protest of lawyers in the island tomorrow as they step up demand for improvements in the justice system. President of the GBA Lisa Taylor yes- terday told The Sunday Gleaner that the lawyers decided to stage a sit-down at the car park of the Supreme Court Registry to protest the continued state of affairs in the justice system and to call on the Government to come up with an urgent plan to comprehensively address all of the issues. According to Taylor, the lawyers are pre- pared to take further action. “It is the start of a process. We initially gave a deadline which passed on December 31. We are consid- ering other options, but we want to show the Government that we are not giving up on the matter. They have not treated the matter with the seriousness it deserves,” said Taylor. SUPPORT She argued that while members of the private Bar might not join the protest, it does not mean that they do not support it. “I know that privately they support the matter but they can’t be involved in the degree that they would want to be involved,” added Taylor. She said following a complete shut- down of all criminal and civil high courts in Grenada last May, the GBA gave the Government until December 31, 2018 to provide suitable accommo- dations to collectively house all high courts and ancillary services. The minister for legal affairs later assured the public that plans were well under way for the Government to acquire the RBTT building on Gore Street, St George’s, for that purpose. “Reliable information subsequently reached the Bar that about October, the Government was outbid for the purchase of that building by a credit union. “The deadline given by the Bar has come and gone and finds us in Grenada with only one opera- tional criminal high court and a tempo- rary civil high court housed in the Grenada Parliament, which functions subject to the parliamentary schedule. “This is increasing the backlog of cases and the ability of litigants to access justice in some cases,” said Taylor. She argued that the facts point to a crisis in the entire judicial system which threatens public confidence in this sys- tem, public order, good governance and the economic and social life of the country. “The Grenada Bar contends that the authorities have not demonstrated with sufficient urgency and action that they accept that there is such a crisis, that they intend to deal with this crisis once and for all,” said Taylor. 5 1 19 27 30 13 9 21 15 191010 0 2 0 6 5 1 0 3 8 5 1 8 8 7 0 4 4 6 1 1 5 4 6 3 7 3 0 27 9 21 6 35 16 2, 6, 11, 12, 13, 16, 19, 20, 28, 32, 33, 35 1, 4, 10, 11, 14, 15, 19, 20, 21, 26, 31, 34 1, 16, 17, 18, 21, 23, 24, 25, 27, 29, 34, 35 3, 4, 6, 14, 15, 19, 23, 24, 25, 29, 30, 32 7, 11, 15, 16, 20, 23, 24, 25, 27, 29, 34, 36 12 17 18 21 23 38 10 5 1 19 $800,000 5 1 Winner $800,000 125 Winners $462 ea. 1,264 Winners $82 ea. No Winner 239 Winners $329 ea. No Winner 5 Winners $16,819 ea. 7 Winners $1,537 ea. 4,212 Winners $100 ea. $65,000,000 4 5 8 13 31 33 7 1 19 1 17 10 16 25 7 13 16 19 21 1 7 10 14 21 1 7 10 13 19 5 7 9 16 18 1 10 14 15 18 13 Winners $1,127 ea. 12 Winners $1,432 ea. 33 Winners $1,000 ea. 255 Winners $200 ea. No Winner 20 $200,500,000 8 8 7 8 5 3 1 No Winner No Winner 255 Winners $215 ea. 345 Winners $220 ea. 53 Winners $1,476 ea. 1,077 Winners $232 ea. No Winner No Winner 31 Winners $1,000 ea. 424 Winners $229 ea. W M WM W M