Cease exploitation of tenants

17/01/2019 17:42

The Consumer Council of Fiji is warning landlords to refrain from exploiting tertiary students by charging hefty rents and providing extremely poor accommodation conditions.

 Instances of continued exploitation by unscrupulous landlords have resurfaced and the Council is issuing a stern warning to landlords to cease this practice as regional students prepare to begin a new semester.

 A complaint was recently received at the Council from a student who was in the country to study at the University of the South Pacific.

 The complainant along with three other students had shared a room where each was expected to pay $200 bond and advance rent of $200 which the landlord said could be used to pay the final month of the contract. On top of this they had to pay another $200 in advance for the first month’s rent. They were then expected to pay rent separately each month. There were two other rooms in the same flat with the same arrangement of four occupants per room.

 Furthermore the Council inspected the flats and noted that water supply was erratic, washroom conditions were filthy, rooms were congested and stray animals would consistently enter their flats.  The complainant occupied the flat for close to a year and it was evident the landlord was not making any effort to improve their living conditions.  The landlord had also failed to provide receipts for each individual tenant.

 Unable to stand the conditions any longer the complainant had given notice that she would move out and sought a refund. The landlord refused the refund forcing the complainant to bring the issue to the Council’s attention.

 Through the Council’s assistance the complainant was able to receive the refund.

 This sort of behaviour by unscrupulous Landlords is unacceptable. They are undoubtedly taking advantage of desperate students who are attempting to further their education. This unethical behaviour apparently has been left unchecked for far too long. Landlords must ensure that they provide proper living conditions to tenants when letting out their property. People pay good money and expect commensurate goods and services in return.

Since 2016 the Consumer Council has received 1021 complaints on Landlord and Tenancy issues worth $274,675.02.

 Any Consumer who feels that they have been treated unfairly by landlords can contact the Consumer Council via the National Consumer Helpline on toll free number 155.