In a tug-of -war between tenants and landlords over who should be paying the garbage fee imposed by the municipal councils, the Consumer Council of Fiji is calling on landlords to clearly specify as to which party will be paying the fee.
There are landlords who include garbage fee in the rent where consumers do not pay any additional fee except the rent stated in the tenancy agreement. However, there are landlords who state garbage fee as a separate fee in addition to rent in the tenancy agreement.
In simple terms ??? if a tenancy agreement expressly states that the tenant should pay the garbage fee then he/she should pay but if there is no such indication then it is not the tenant?s responsibility. In the case of no written agreement, the Council is advising both parties to discuss, negotiate and reach an amicable resolution on the matter.
Council?s this crucial advice comes in light of queries made by some Suva consumers, mainly the first-time tenants regarding certain other charges imposed on them by their landlords verbally despite a signed tenancy agreement in place which makes no reference to the residential garbage fee.
Cases at hand show how these tenants, slapped with this $28.75 bill are perplexed on the question ? whether to pay this extra amount which was not specified but is now being demanded by their landlords.
Consumers have right to information in terms of the total costs involved in renting a place and this information must be fully disclosed in writing so that tenants can assess their financial ability before taking up the premises. With a written tenancy agreement in place, both parties would know their obligations and act accordingly.
Consumers can access a standard tenancy agreement from the Council?s website www.consumersfiji.org or pick a copy from the Council office in Suva, Lautoka and Labasa. ?Our tenancy-agreement is a living document and can be modified with additional clauses based on new terms &conditions, rights and responsibilities by those using it.
Ms Premila Kumar
Chief Executive Officer