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Tap water and electricity fees at apartments come under legal control as of May 1

Starting on May 1, electricity and tap water fees at hostels, apartments or rented rooms in residential buildings will come under legal control which prohibits owners of the premises from overcharging the utility fees.

The electricity and tap water fee control is in accordance with an announcement of the Consumer Protection Board which will come into force as of May 1, which was intended to protect consumers from being taken advantage of by owners of apartments, hostels or rented rooms who often overcharged their tenants.

Under the law, apartment ownwers cannot charge electricity and tap water above the rates charged by Metropolitan Electricity Authority in the case of Bangkok or the Provincial Electricity Authority in the case of other provinces.

Mr Pikanes Tapuang, deputy secretary-general of Office of Consumer Protection Board, warned on Wednesday (April 25) that owners of hostels, apartments or rented rooms who overcharge their tenants would face a maximum fine of up to 100,000 baht and/or one-year imprisonment.

Besides electricity and tap water fees which are to be placed under control, the landlords cannot demand advance rental fee exceeding one month and damage guarantee in excess of one month’s rental fee, he said.

In addition, landlords are not allowed to charge fee for the extension of tenancy contract or to prohibit tenants from getting into their rented rooms in case of rental fee default or to enter the rented rooms to remove the tenants’ belongings.

Regarding the rights of the tenants under the announcement, the tenants can cancel the rental contracts by notifying the landlords 30 days in advance in case the rental contract is 12 months.  In case a tenant cancels the rental contract, the landlord must quickly refund the tenant for the damage guarantee. If the actual damage caused by the tenant exceeds the amount of guarantee, the landlord has the right to demand the difference from the tenant.  But if the cost of the damage is less than the amount of guarantee, the landlord must return the difference to the tenant.

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