MP Wescot-Williams: Report of the Rental Tribunal Suggests Areas for Improvement | SOUALIGA NEWSDAY

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – During the 2021 budget debates, MP Wescot-Williams questioned how the Rental Tribunal “rent committee” was performing in general and during the pandemic and the economic downturn in particular.

Hence, the MP has decided to follow up on this matter via a meeting of Parliament as the Rental Tribunal is subsided by the Government of St. Maarten. 

“For the deliberations in Parliament, we received from Government a detailed report of the Rental 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 request for termination of rental agreements and eviction because of rental arrears resulting from the economy’s hard-felt challenges’,”, MP Wescot explained. 

The Rental Tribunal is authorized via our Civil Code and in particular the book on Rent of the Civil Code.

According to abovementioned Tribunal’s report “The main concern of the RT 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 livable. In absence of emergency relief programs for tenants, such as a targeted low-income rental subsidy and meals distribution program, the social welfare of tenants remains a major concern.” 

In the view of the MP: “As we address the social (security) programs 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 Ottley has acknowledged the need for the overhaul of our social programs (“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-dimensional.”

The rental tribunal has in the mentioned report alluded to some upgrades and or amendments to the current rental laws, based on its experiences thus far.

MP Wescot-Williams has therefore asked that this report be discussed in a committee meeting of Parliament, allowing the members of the Rental Tribunal the opportunity to present their proposals for changes to our rental laws, that will better serve our people during the extra-ordinary times and economic challenges we presently face.

In closing, the MP added: “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., “By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums.”