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Landlords raising rent, booting tenants

Davion Smith, BVI News Journalist

Government ministers are calling on their leader, Premier Dr D Orlando Smith, to take action against landlords who have been hiking the cost of rent and wrongfully evicting tenants in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Education Minister, Myron Walwyn, said he has received reports of landlord misconduct throughout the territory.

“I, myself, received some complaints not just on Tortola but also in Virgin Gorda about that same issue of landlords asking tenants to leave. And I got some complaints as well about persons increasing their rent during that time. And that is something, Premier, that we have to very clearly show our contempt for.”

The minister noted the ‘landlord issue’ amid ongoing reports that businesses and supermarkets also have been hiking the prices of goods and services to customers.

He, along with Junior Minister for Trade and Investment Promotion, Marlon Penn, said there is urgent need for consumer protection laws.

Speaking during a Town-hall meeting and radio broadcast yesterday, Penn said: “I think one of the areas that we’ve looked at prior to Hurricane Irma was the whole issue of consumer protection legislation and to fight against the very same thing that is happening right now, which is the price gouging that companies are being accused of in many aspects of the economy.”

“We have the legislation ready, Premier – the aspects that speaks to the gouging specifically and collusion. I think that’s something that we really need to look at very quickly.”

Representative of the Second District, Melvin ‘Mitch’ Turnbull, was the first to raise the issue during the meeting last evening. He said some landlords in his district have been named as culprits.

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