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Improvements of Housing Lease Laws and Policies for a Tenant’s Housing Rights

Author: 
Eun-Cheol ParkㆍSu-Kyoung Kim

Tenants housing rights are not entirely guaranteed under the Civil Act and Housing Lease Protection Act in the current housing lease market, where we have increased monthly residential leases in Seoul. A tenant’s housing rights are unstable under the Civil Act owing to the tenants’ inability to officially register for the Jeonse right or the lease registration without the landlord’s consent. The Acts do not restrict the lessor’s right to terminate contracts and reject contract renewal in order to provide security of tenure. According to the Housing Lease Protection Act, the lease shall take effect against the third party a day after the lessee completes the resident registration. This means that the lessee no longer has opposing power when he or she loses house occupancy or transfers the resident registration. Although the lessee pays a huge amount of deposit in order to rent a residence, he or she is not allowed to register an official registration of the occupant. This could cause problems such as the repayment of deposit after the contract ends the lessor prefers to sign a new contract since a five percent increment is invalid when he or she signs a new lease agreement. Therefore, housing lease laws and policies should be revised in order to guarantee a tenant‘s housing rights. First, this study suggests that the title, Housing Lease Protection Act, be changed to Housing Lease Act so that the new Act provides rights and responsibility balance between the lessor and lessee. The new and revised Act shall contain provisions such as a tenant’s ① tenure security, ② affordability, and ③ opposing power and repayment of deposit. It is also required to establish a rental housing registration system to improve private housing lease management. The registration should include all rental house’s general information, physical conditions, location, as well as the housing lease agreement The Seoul City Government will be able to create a systematic database through the collection of this information. Ultimately, this will also assist the government to develop a guideline for rent regulation and rental income tax collection. This research paper also proposes legal and institutional improvements of each stage in the housing lease contract. First, when setting up a tenancy, the housing lease terms should be extended from two years to three years. Additionally, a lessee should hold the opposing power and preferential repayment right when he or she obtains a fixed date on the lease contract document and moves into the residence. Second, several suggestions have been made to resolve disputes during the tenancy. The Civil Act should clarify the lessors’ rental housing repair and maintenance responsibilities in detail. The government should offer tenure security for a lessee who is about to get evicted for failing to pay his or her rent. Third, a lessee’s right to renewal contract should be accepted at the end of the tenancy to ensure that he or she continues to live in the same residence for a given amount of the time. The rent increase needs a limit regularly whenever the lease is newly signed or renewed. The rent will be eventually managed by the region using the standard table of rents. Lastly, the Act includes a provision that prohibits the lessor from evicting a lessee at the end of the tenancy in order to protect the tenant’s housing right. In addition, the law should have a provision that the lessor returns the tenant’s deposit within a month after the contract ends. It is also required that the lessee be allowed to sign up the lease registration without the lessor’s consent in the long run.