New measures in Venezuela clamp down on rent

AP News
Posted: Oct 28, 2011 11:27 PM
New measures in Venezuela clamp down on rent

Venezuelan lawmakers have approved measures that expand rent controls and require landlords to offer to sell their properties to any renters who have been living in a home for more than 20 years.

Business and homeowner groups condemned the measures Friday and said they would appeal in court.

The revised law passed Thursday night by allies of President Hugo Chavez in the National Assembly requires landlords to register their homes and says those who violate the controls may be fined up to $7,000.

The government had already ordered a freeze on rents and now is expected to regulate the amounts that may be charged. Details of how the controls are to be administered have yet to be spelled out.

Aquiles Martini, president of Venezuela's real estate chamber, said the measures undermine private property rights and will represent "the death of renting."

"No one will invest their savings in a home to rent out, nor will new homes be built to rent," Martini told reporters.

Chavez told state television Thursday that the new measures are for the "benefit of the majority."

His government also maintains price controls on many basic foods, including milk, beef and sugar.

Chavez's socialist-oriented government promoted the law to benefit renters while also building public housing to try to cope with a severe housing shortage in the country.

Pro-Chavez congressman Diosdado Cabello said the law will benefit an estimated 750,000 families who rent homes in the country of 29 million people. He added that it will also protect the rights of landlords when renters fail to pay.