PROPERTY MANAGERS ARE MISSING IN THE LANDLORDS AND TENANTS ACT
Property managers are (in)famous for evicting tenants. A tenant who was once thrown out of his apartment (read premises) will never forget the property manager who threw him out.
It so happens that most of the times I have interacted with property managers, they will occasionally make or receive a call from a problematic tenant and then exchange tough words in my presence.
The very first property manager I interacted with in Uganda is called Andrew Mukiibi from Premier Property Lettings Ltd, that was way back in 2006 when i was trying to make my entry into the real estate industry, at that time, his office was on 1st street, next to what was then known as Ange Nior Discotheque.
When I went to his office, I found him in a very horrible mood as he was in the midst of a heated and lengthy phone argument with a problematic tenant at the time when I arrived.
I even contemplated rescheduling my meeting with him based on the assumption that our meeting may be affected by his mood, and thus I could fail to get what I wanted from him.
luckily enough he was able to quickly compose himself for a discussion with me. Since then, I realized that many property managers have learnt to handle erratic tenants (or even landlords) and yet keep their cool for the rest of the working day.
On another occasion, I was shocked when a property manager told me that he was setting off from our meeting to lock up someone’s apartment, he mentioned that he does not care where the family will sleep that night, especially when the kids return from school.
Those two encounters with property managers gave me a glimpse into the challenging side of what they go through on regular basis as they execute their property management roles.
Besides evicting tenants and having heated arguments with them, property managers do a lot of other noble tasks for both the landlords and tenants, they are grossly involved in all aspects of the properties that they manage, and that is exactly where the Landlord and Tenants Act comes into the mix.
Its unfortunate (or interesting) that the Landlord and Tenants Act does not at all explicitly mention the role of a property manager in the context of the relationship between the landlord and his tenants, yet the property manager is an intermediary between those two parties.
- How could such an Act by-pass the role of a property manager who is a key player in the entire relationship between a landlord and tenant?
- Why is it that the property managers seem to have been silent about their role when the Act was being drafted or presented or passed?
- Did property managers assume that they would not be impacted, or that they were irrelevant to that specific Act?
- Or, is it that I am just overrating the role of property managers, and that they do not matter much, hence ignoring them in the Act is a safe option?
- Shall we need a distinct Act to regulate property managers regarding their relationship with landlords and tenants?
Am still open minded and very interested in hearing more about those issues from some of the top-rated property managers in Uganda (Judy, Pradip, Moses, Kunnal, Keneth, Prabhat, Fiona, Vincent, Lillian, Wilberforce, Andrew, Phillip, Richard) and all the other parties that interact with both landlords and tenants.
I recently had a related phone discussion with Wilberforce Nsamba of Credo Property Management Ltd in Bugoloobi, he mentioned that the Act talks about appointing an agent to represent the landlord, and that the property manager is therefore an agent of the landlord.
Section 49.1 of the act says that the "Landlord and tenant may act through (an) agent", and that "A landlord or tenant may appoint an agent to effect any transactions that may be required" under the Act.
However, I still strongly believe that section 49 as mentioned in the Act (shown above) does very little to exhaust the vital role played by a property manager, i also think that the word "agent" on its own is ambiguous if it does not have a prefix to define the type of agent.
I strongly believe that the Act should have been able to elucidate much more on how the tenants and landlords engage or interact with the property manager basing on the fact that the property manager is a vital link between the two parties.
Robin Suuna Kironde, a long time property manager from Property Consultants Ltd, informed me that there are scenarios where the property manager if given "the powers of attorney" will play the actual role of the landlord as stipulated in the Act.
I have a question for Robin and other property managers though. Isn’t there a need to regulate the property manager and his relationship between tenant and landlord, or do we (again) have to wait for a major country wide problem to arise between all those three parties and then we can act?
"In some cases, the tenant never even gets to meet the landlord during his entire tenancy" says Robin from Property Consultants Ltd. This further solidifies my point regarding the importance of a property manager in the landlord/tenant relationship.
In my discussions with Shirley Kongai (the president of AREA Uganda) regarding this issue, she indicated that there will be regulations by the minister in-line with the Act, and that such regulations will be able to highlight or point out the role of a property manager if need arises.
When i asked Vincent Agaba (a seasoned property manager from Avarts Housing Limited) to shed some light on the fact that property managers are not at all mentioned in the Landlords and Tenants Act, he concurred with the fact that a subsequent set of regulation (from the line minister) is going to harmonize any pending issues with the Landlord and Tenants Act 2022 as per section 51.1 of the Act.
Section 51.1 of the act says that "The Minister may, by statutory instrument, make regulations generally for the better carrying into effect any of the provisions of this Act".
Vincent further indicated that, pending issues to be solved by the regulations may include the clarity regarding the relationship between the property managers and the landlords/tenants, and that he is closely following the upcoming regulations.
However, to emphasize the role of property managers, Vincent also gave me a very good analogy in form of a question, "how do we expect a referee (property manager) who is not trained (regulated) to preside over a match between two teams that are well trained?".
From my interactions with Vincent, I understood that if the landlord and the tenant are well regulated, then the person representing them (the property manager) should be regulated as well in order to ensure a smooth working relationship.
As i continue to interact with several property management companies in Uganda regarding this issue, I still strongly believe that property managers are missing in the Landloads And Tenants Act 2022, and that there is a need for them to be elevated above the status of a generic word like "agent", this can be done by explicitly incorporating them into the Act, either through a set of regulation or an amendment.
Author: Julius Czar
Company: Zillion Technologies Ltd
Mobile: +256705162000 / +256788162000
App: Install the RED Android App