The High Court in Zomba has ruled in favour of the Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) in a case which its tenants obtained an injunction, restraining the corporation from effecting rental hikes.
On August 30 this year, the court granted the tenants leave to apply for judicial review, and the court, as a consequential interlocutory relief, also granted them an order of stay of the decision by MHC to increase rentals with effect from September 1.
However, the court in its ruling says it does not mean that at this stage of the proceedings, it neither confirms nor faults the MHC’s rental increments.
The court also dismissed arguments the tenants made on the premise that the MHC Act does not permit the corporation to make profits.
In his ruling, Zomba-based High Court Judge Redson Kapindu, despite declining an invitation by the corporation to discharge leave for a judicial review, has ordered that in the interim, MHC should be allowed to implement an average increase of 20 percent on the rentals effective October 1.
Reads part of the ruling: “There is, therefore, no justification in law or in equity why, in the interim, the respondent should be prevented from effecting even the 20 percent average increase in terms of which there is no dispute. That does not sound justifiable.
“I, therefore, consider it fair and just to make an order that the respondent, pending the final determination of this matter, be allowed to immediately implement an average increase of the rentals effective from 1 October 2017.”
Kapindu in his ruling further appointed the dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Malawi (Unima) to facilitate meaningful engagement between the two parties.
He expects a report of the engagement to the court by Monday prior to the commencement of the judicial review hearing, with a view to finding mutually-acceptable solutions to the current dispute.
“Hearing of the Judicial Review herein will be expedited. The matter will be adjourned to Monday, 30 October 2017 for the full hearing of the motion for judicial review,” further reads the ruling.
MHC director of administration and corporate services James Kaphale described the ruling as fair.
Efforts to talk to MHC tenant’s spokesperson Goodnews Mphande, however, proved futile as his phone was out of reach.