UD MP Sarah Wescot-Williams.
PHILIPSBURG--United Democrats (UD) Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot-Williams has requested that a report from the Rent Tribunal (rent committee) be discussed during a meeting of Parliament’s Central Committee.
The meeting would give members of the Rental Tribunal the opportunity to present their proposals for changes to the country’s rental laws that will better serve renters “during the extraordinary times and economic challenges we presently face.”
“The work of the Rental Tribunal is relevant to several of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as the goal of sustainable cities and communities,” Wescot-Williams said, citing one of them: “By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums.”
The MP said during the 2021 budget debates, she questioned how the Rental Tribunal had been performing in general, and particularly during the pandemic and the economic downturn. She followed up on this matter via a meeting of Parliament as the Rent Tribunal is subsidised by government.
“For the deliberations in Parliament, we received from government, a detailed report of the Rent Tribunal. However, this report in itself has not, in my opinion, received the necessary attention. From the Tribunal’s report, it is evident that the Tribunal is confronted with a dramatic increase in cases related to requests for termination of rental agreements and eviction, because of rental arrears resulting from the economy’s hard-felt challenges,” Wescot said in a press release.
The Rent Tribunal is authorised via the Civil Code and in particular the book on Rent of the Civil Code.
According to the Tribunal’s report, “The main concern of the Rent Tribunal is the lack of decent and affordable choice or availability of rental property for tenants. Too often, what is known as affordable is unsafe, unhygienic, or just not liveable. In absence of emergency relief programmes for tenants, such as a targeted low-income rental subsidy and meals distribution programme, the social welfare of tenants remains a major concern.” In its report, the Rent Tribunal also alluded to some upgrades and or amendments to the current rental laws, based on its experiences thus far.
Wescot-Williams: “As we address the social [security – Ed.] programmes available to our people who are in need of such, we need to do so from a comprehensive and sustainable platform, taking into account reports such as these on the housing challenges.
“Minister [of Public Health, Social Development and Labor VSA Omar] Ottley has acknowledged the need for the overhaul of our social programmes [“onderstand”, etc.], but my concern is that our priorities will now have to be decided upon in close consultation with the Netherlands via the country package, and implementation agendas. What I miss from this country package and the implementation reports is a people-focused approach and vision. In order to get a better view of our services to the vulnerable members of our society, we need to approach it multi-dimensionally,” the MP added.