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Don’t use me as no battering ram – PM

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Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr Ralph Gonsalves has warned landlords who have increased their rent ahead of the implementation of increased property taxes not to use him as a battering ram.{{more}}

It was reported in the Midweek edition of SEARCHLIGHT on February 7 that already, some landlords have increased rent citing the recent announcement of a 15 per cent average increase in property taxes.

At least two persons have complained to SEARCHLIGHT that their landlords have increased their rent in anticipation of the rate hike in property taxes which is to be implemented soon.

One individual was told that she would have to pay $100 more a month, while another said that she was told her rent was going to increase by $125 monthly.

Gonsalves, during a press conference Tuesday, said that landlords who blamed the increase on increased property taxes were being dishonest.

“You digging out people eye and you using Ralph as a battering ram – don’t use me as no battering ram,” Gonsalves declared.

“In any event, the property tax for the whole year is unlikely to go up by that amount for that particular place for a month.”

“Is dishonesty you engage in when you putting up the rent and call my name about property tax. Don’t do it! And I am saying to the tenants if they come to you and tell you that say the Comrade say don’t use him as a battering ram,” he said.

“No you can’t go ahead and do that. Be honest with people,” Gonsalves said, adding that such persons needed to be exposed.

He advised tenants that there is a Rent Act, but according to the prime minister, this needed to be reviewed in order to strengthen it so that tenants can be protected.

This process needed to be done in a sensible and practical manner. He, however, cautioned because the demand for rooms at the lower end of the rent scale exceeded the supply and as the prime minister explained it, some landlords who were aware of this may want to charge an “arm and a leg”, because they were aware of the great demand for housing, and housing in areas in near proximity to Kingstown.

“But we have to make sure that we are being fair to the landlords, and we are being fair to the tenants,” the prime minister said.(DD)

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