THE unprecedented increase in house rents in recent months is creating growing pressure on city dwellers and is hitting them hard. It is almost a common practice that house owners raise rents in the first month of the New Year in the city to add new hardships to job holders who live in rented houses. According to a report of the Consumers’ Association of Bangladesh, house rents in the capital increased by 249.62 percent over the last 19 years and particularly since 1991 it increased at a galloping rate. House rents increase by 20 to 30 percent every year forcing tenants to cut family budgets mainly for food, health care and education to bring setbacks to their living standard. And this in turn increases non-food inflation to a large extent. Latest data of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) showed non-food inflation in urban areas witnessed an upward trend in January to stand at 6.04 percent from 5.13 percent in December last and the rise in house rents has been mainly blamed for it as per a report in a national daily on Wednesday. We know we have a house-rent control law enacted in 1991. It said, among other things, house rents couldn’t be raised before two years and moreover, it couldn’t be raised by more than 15 percent at a time. But the law did not specify any parent ministry to execute its statutes. Under it the government is authorized to appoint a person as controller for an area to reign in rent hike matters. Without his consent no one can raise the rent and will be liable to a fine if he or she does it. But so far no controller has been designated to execute the law allowing freedom to house owners to raise it as and when one wishes . Even households raise rents when the City Corporation increases the holding tax to pass the incidence on to the tenants. Tenants are totally hostage to owners’ exploitation without protection and we believe, it can’t go unabated. But as we see nothing is there to stop house owners to stop exploitation of the tenants. Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh had secured a High Court order in 2010 for a review of the law but we are dismayed by government inaction so far. Moreover, owners are not obeying the scheduled house rent rates which the Dhaka City Corporation has worked out for every area of the city and has published in its website. We know almost 90 percent of the city’s 15 million population live in rental houses but the house owners lobby is highly organized in one hand and the lack of enforcement of existing laws has created a total chaos in the system on the other. The lack of government interest in this matter is thus leading to cause higher inflation to add to greater macro-economic problems for the nation. We urge the government and particularly the city corporations to act quickly to give some sort of protection to hapless tenants and reign in reckless rise on house rent to save the people from ruthless exploration.