Parties Officially Form Group to Draft New Rent Control Law

The country’s two major political parties officially formed a working group on Friday to hammer out a new law meant to stop landlords from hiking rents every time migrant workers—mainly in the garment sector—get a pay rise, according to a statement.

Interior Minister Sar Kheng, a CPP lawmaker, and CNRP President Sam Rainsy agreed on the formation of an eight-member group with four parliamentarians from each party, according to joint statement released following talks between the two on Friday. CPP lawmaker Pen Panha has been appointed to chair the group.

“The working group has a duty to check, study, and propose a draft law on rent control law, particularly in the field of social affairs, for the leaders of lawmakers to check and make decisions,” the statement says, adding that the group would meet when called together by the chairman.

Although the bipartisan plans to clamp down on greedy landlords was first announced by Prime Minister Hun Sen in a speech earlier this month, it was quickly embraced by Mr. Rainsy, who recently toured industrial areas of Phnom Penh to promote the bill.

“The lawmakers see the difficulties faced by the workers because the landlords will increase the rental fees when the salary of workers is increased,” said Mao Monyvann, a CNRP lawmaker and member of the newly established working group.

When the rent control law was first proposed, Mr. Rainsy said he wanted any new law to prevent landlords from increasing rents by more than the rate of inflation, and said the restriction should apply to all landlords, not just those housing the low paid.

But the CPP has been less clear about how far any new law should go.

“I dare not answer about the scope of this law,” said Pal Sam Oeun, a CPP lawmaker and member of the working group.

The group will begin meeting this week, he said.

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