THE San Juan/Laventille Regional Corporation has accepted that it cannot raise the rent for stalls at the San Juan public market without first amending the market’s bye-laws.
The concession was made to Justice Frank Seepersad when vendors at the San Juan market returned to court on Monday where they are challenging the decision by the corporation to raise rent.
Attorney Samuel Saunders, who appeared for the corporation, told the judge the corporation accepted it could not raise the rent for stalls without amending the market bye-laws.
Last week, Seepersad granted an injunction to the vendors, blocking the corporation from charging or collecting rent for stalls at the San Juan public market which are in excess of what is permitted under the market’s bye-laws.
With the concession made, all that remains is the issue of reimbursement of the increased rent for vendors.
Attorney Gerald Ramdeen, who represents the vendors, admitted that they don’t all have records or receipts for the rent they have paid in excess of what was provided for in the market bye-laws.
Saunders also admitted the corporation’s records may also be incomplete, and Seepersad suggested both parties meet and arrive at a decision on the repayment of the excess rent. Meanwhile, the vendors have been urged to gather all their documents ahead of the meeting.
The concession by the San Juan/Laventille Corporation may also affect other markets across the country which may have raised rent without the necessary amendments to the respective market bye-laws. Several, vendors from the San Juan market took legal action challenging the corporation’s decision to increase rent for stalls.
Earlier in August, vendors protested the move, saying the increased rent was almost ten times what was prescribed by law. In 2006, when the bye laws for the market were approved, rent charged was $3 and $5 per day, in some cases and $5 in others.
In 2010, rent increased to $50 per week, per stall or $200 per month. Five years later, rent again increased by $10, and one year later, in June 2016, rent was increased to $800. The vendors say they are struggling to meet expenses which includes buying goods and paying transport costs. They are also represented by attorneys Umesh Maharaj and Dayadai Harripaul.