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No new rent law
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 16 - 05 - 2019

Speaker of the House of Representatives Ali Abdel-Aal told MPs in a plenary session on Sunday that unfounded speculation and rumours were causing misunderstandings among the public and in political circles.
“One rumour doing the rounds is that parliament is debating amendments to the landlord-tenant law regulating old rents,” said Abdel-Aal.
“While some MPs have proposed changes to the law these are just suggestions with no official standing.”
Abdel-Aal spoke after some members of the Housing Committee told reporters last week old rents would be discussed before parliament adjourns for the summer in July.
Ibrahim Al-Hissi, deputy chairman of the committee, said a ruling issued by the Supreme Constitutional Court made it imperative for parliament to amend the law.
“The court said old law rent contracts cannot be extended without the building owner's prior approval,” said Al-Hissi. “In other words, these old contracts cannot continue indefinitely.”
Youssri Al-Moghazi, the committee's second deputy chairman, told the media “the quicker parliament discusses the old housing units law the better it will be for both landlords and tenants.
“Issued in the mid-1960s, the law froze rents, making it impossible for landlords to raise them to reflect market prices. The committee has asked the government for reliable figures on the number of units subject to the old law so members can consider the impact of abandoning the outdated legislation.”
Abdel-Moneim Al-Oleimi, an independent MP who has submitted proposals of changing the law, said existing legislation “should be liberalised and contracts reviewed every four years so they reflect market prices.”
Abdel-Aal warned tenant-landlord legislation needed to be subject to a national dialogue being discussed in parliament. “Haphazard amendments cause social tensions and we need to be very cautious,” he said.
The speaker also dismissed reports that parliament is currently discussing new laws regulating elections to the House of Representatives and the Senate.
“I am surprised some MPs have spoken to the media about the make-up of each chamber and the election system which will be used. The Supreme Constitutional Court clearly stipulated that parliament can only discuss laws on parliamentary elections after they have gained a consensus among political forces.”
Abdel-Aal urged MPs to exercise caution when talking to the media.
“You are politicians and when you speak to the media you should make clear you are expressing personal views rather than the views of parliament.”
Speculation over imminent new election laws became rife after MPs passed constitutional amendments on 16 April which were subsequently approved in a referendum on 23 April. The amendments create a second chamber, the Senate, and reduce the number of House of Representatives members from 596 to 450.
Meanwhile, parliament's Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee approved a new amendment to the Anti-Terrorism Law 94/2015 on Sunday. The committee said in a report that the change will prevent terrorist elements from renting domestic property.
“Owners will be obliged to inform authorities of the names of those seeking to rent accommodation,” said the report. “This preventive step will help safeguard citizens and the state against terrorist threats.”
The amendment gives prosecution authorities the power to sequester housing units used to give shelter to terrorist elements.
The committee's report said prosecution authorities had reported a number of cases of terrorists taking shelter in rented housing and using rented accommodation to store weapons.
The amendment also grants prosecution authorities the power to shut down factories and workshops used by extremists.

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