Saturday, February 23, 2013
Presidential Election and Rent Law
Each month Dan Delgado brings all the big news from the Spanish speaking Ecuadorian community. It may have to do specifically with things happening in Cotacachi and the immediate surrounding areas or, as in this case, more of a national view. Whatever he reports on, it's always interesting and informative. This one, in particular, seemed of interest to all of us who live here and those who are contemplating moving here.
I hope you find it as helpful as I did.
By Dan Delgado
Communications Committee for English-Speaking Residents of Cotacachi
Ecuadorians voted on February 17 for president and vice-president, as well as for 137 members of the national assembly; candidates for representative are now drawn from all provinces, whereas before this election, the representatives mostly came from Quito and Guayaquil, and there are six representatives for Ecuadorians who are living overseas.
Ecuadorians also voted for their five Andean Parliament representatives. The Andean Parliament is part of the Andean Community of Nations (CAN) which is working across borders on items like the Andean Passport for citizens of member states and also the implementation of a new unit of virtual currency to facilitate commercial exchange between member countries of CAN called the SUCRE (Sistema Unico de Compensacion Regional. The mechanisms are being structured now so that in the future there may be a move toward a regional currency not dependant on the US dollar. There is no publicized plan to drop the dollar and for now, not enough info is available in Ingles.
TWO THIRDS (2/3) MAJORITY FOR PAIS PARTY
The following is translated from El Comercio Newspaper.
Starting the 24th of May 2013, President Correa's party (Alianza PAIS) will have control of two-thirds of the Legislative Assembly, with which the 2008 Constitution itself could be reformed without the need for agreements with the opposition or the need to call for a public referendum.
Reelected President Rafael Correa already has reported an imminent package of reforms to the 2008 Constitution. The announcement was made during correspondence with the press at Carondelet Palace. "We will review the Constitution and make the reforms that we have to," were the words spoken by the President, adding that he aims for institutional improvements for the future of Ecuador. In this context, he mentioned several items which could be the subject of reform in the Constitution. He does not agree with the constitution prohibiting GMOs (live seeds); which he has said a few times over the last year.
[ed note- GMO products are allowed and common in Ecuador and some say that with Ecuador building research facilities like Yachay City of Knowledge in Urcuqui, Ecuador should do research on live GMO's independently of transnational corporations].
Other issues that Correa said might be reviewed are some of the functions of municipal governments, and also some legal wording that allows for indiscriminate use of "Protective Actions" which disrupt the implementation of government policies. Correa also announced that having the legislative majority in the next Assembly it would be possible to approve a series of legal bodies that he considers priorities. Among them, he cited the new Comprehensive Criminal Code, and National Laws on the uses of Land and of Water. Also expected in upcoming sessions is an initiative to facilitate that housewives receive retirement benefits.
This content has been originally published by Diario EL COMERCIO at the following address: http://www.elcomercio.com/politica/Rafael_Correa-elecciones_2013-reformas-Constitucion_0_869313202.html. To make use of the same, please cite the source, and provide a link to the original.
El Comercio is not on the best terms with the present administration but I found this writing to be succinct and the facts cited here are supported by other sources.
AUTONOMOUS OR CENTRALIZED
Specifically mentioned in interviews as a municipal function to be reevaluated is education, which, as a municipal responsibility led to Ecuador's having dozens of "garage" universities and which also left the rural (indigenous) areas exposed to leadership by unqualified unscrupulous directors and staff and a lot of kids ending up with worthless diplomas.
One reaction by the central government after a child died in a typical indigenous volunteer-run Centro Infantil near Cotacachi was to propose the complete restructuring of infant and child care. Parents who receive government help would be obligated to enroll their children in government centers from the age of two and must also provide proof that the children are "getting medical attention". This also ostensibly to address the high incidence in communities of learning disabilities and malnutrition related disorders both mental and physical.
Three months with so many lame ducks. This week, the 124 Assembly members who were voted out and that will leave office on May 13 returned to work. There are several major laws to be considered soon: the laws of Media Communications, the Law of Land Use and the Law of Control of Water, among others. The media law is ready to be voted on. In July 2012, the Alianza Pais party planned to push for a final vote on this Communications Media Law but an ally backed out who had been expected to give them the necessary 63 votes and without her alliance the move to a final vote was postponed. This law is unlikely to be a brought up again until the newly elected legislators take office. And there is more. Much more change expected - but one law that Cotacachi will find most interesting is the Reformas a la Ley de Inquilinato which should come up for an approval vote soon in the National Assembly.
Some expected reforms to this national-level law are that the municipal governments must control real estate property rental transactions through a specialized office which will set the minimum and maximum rental amount based on the cadastral (tax assessment) valuation, the location and several other characteristics of the property. It will also regulate and register leases and other contracts which nowadays are mostly "informal" and often verbal, making rental agreements transparent (open books) and ensuring that gains are subject to taxation. Similar laws are on the books now, but enforcement is lax without formal complaints.
Another point of interest is that this same office of lease registration, and not the landlord, will be responsible for holding the tenant's security deposit. This amount will be returned to the tenant, when it is verified that the property is turned over to the landlord in good condition, or it could be turned over to the landlord to cover verified damages. Any difference of opinion as to verbal agreements or unclear expectations are to be decided in favor of the tenant - by law. La Hora and other newspapers are covering this situation if you are interested - for example:
The landlord has to justify before the court of Rental Law (Inquilinato) the reasons for asking for an increase in rent. ...the rental law does not permit automatic yearly increases. If the landlord attempts to raise the rent, the renter can appeal to the Juez de Inquilinato (which for now is in Ibarra) and the landlord may even be subject to a fine. [This info on current laws is copied from http://www.gringosabroad.com/what-are-the-rental-laws-in-ecuador/]
For now a notarized lease is customarily used in Cotacachi but it is rare that landlords also register these leases properly. Unfortunately for the landlord, without this registry it is very hard to increase rent or evict a tenant and without at least a notarized lease a tenant could refuse to leave a property for a good while with impunity. A tenant can refuse a rent increase and force a landlord to court and a tenant has certain squatters rights also. If the landlord were to try to stop utilities like water or other services the landlord faces stiff penalties. Tenants can find out the legal rental amount for their apartment by asking at the office of Avaluos y Catastros and complaints for now go through the Juez de Inquilinato in Ibarra's court house.
Assemblymember Mauro Andino http://www.mauroandino.com/contacto/ is part of the commission working on the new reforms to the national rent-control law. To contact him by teléfono: 023991026 or try his Oficina email, firstname.lastname@example.org
The debates continue this week on the new Civil Code with issues about how the parent's surnames ought to be conferred on a child (both or either or in which order) and whether to allow for a divorce if either party should contest and whether to raise the legal age of marriage up to 16 with parental blessing. For now a girl can get married legally at age twelve. Some changes may seem way over the top and others are long overdue.
May you live in interesting times...
By Dan Delgado
Communications Committee for English-Speaking Residents of Cotacachi