(MENAFN - Jordan Times) Around 300 traders from across the Kingdom gathered outside Parliament on Sunday in protest against the Landlords and Tenants Law.
Merchants carried banners rejecting the law and chanted slogans denouncing deputies for endorsing the legislation.
In addition, the majority of stores in downtown Amman closed between 10:00am and 1:00pm yesterday, in response to a call by the Jordan Chamber of Commerce (JCC) for a nationwide three-hour shut-down to protest against the law.
Some downtown traders chose to keep their shops open, while a limited number of stores heeded the call in the capital's bustling commercial areas of Jabal Hussein and Sweifieh.
Traders interviewed by The Jordan Times had mixed feelings about the JCC's call, with some believing that the move would pressure lawmakers to amend the law, and others voicing pessimism over the demonstration and opting not to participate in the strike.
During the demonstration, JCC member Tariq Tabaa said the chamber does not seek to harm any party through the strike, but aims at highlighting the grievances of traders affected by the Landlords and Tenants Law.
Merchants reject Article 5 of the law, which stipulates that tenants must renegotiate their contracts with their landlords under new conditions; and Article 7, under which tenants' heirs are allowed to retain residential properties for three years and commercial properties for six years following the tenant's death.
Mohammad Jaber, who owns a toy shop in downtown Amman, said that rents have been rising since the law was endorsed.
"I have to meet many expenses, including my house rent. Because of the law, I cannot afford the costs of the house and the shop," Jaber told The Jordan Times at the protest.
Hussein Qadi, another protester, warned that the law will cause a social crisis.
"Around 12,000 families in Zarqa are in danger of being evicted because of the inheritance article," he noted.
Salem Bader, a book seller in Zarqa, said he took part in Sunday's strike to protest against the new calculation mechanism of the rent.
Under the law, if the landlord and tenant do not agree on the rent, they can resort to court, which has to send a panel to determine the proper rate in accordance with the location of the rented property. The ruling should be issued within six-months.
"The panel determines the new rent in accordance with the neighbour's. If my neighbour earns hundreds and can afford a high rent, it does not mean that I can," he told The Jordan Times.
Emad Abu Bandoura, vice president of the Zarqa Chamber of Commerce, said the court should appoint people who have enough experience in the commercial sector as panel members.
"These members should be representatives of the private sector and chambers of commerce in Jordan so that they set a fair rent," he told The Jordan Times.
Bandoura recommended defining a percentage endorsed by the government to determine the rent instead of sending a panel.
Meanwhile, other traders described the JCC's move as useless and opted to boycott the demonstration and the strike.
Tamara Abzakh, an employee at a sweets shop in the upscale neighbourhood of Sweifieh, said she did not close down the shop because she was unaware of the strike.
But Abzakh said that even if she knew about the strike, she would not take part in it.
"When traders close down their shops, they do not add pressure on the government; they only harm their business," she told The Jordan Times yesterday.
Abu Bashar, who works at a clothing store on the pedestrianised Wakalat Street, said strikes will not produce tangible results and nothing will be amended.
"Once, most of the traders on this street held a strike to call for making the street accessible to cars, because our businesses were affected negatively, but it did not change anything except for harming our business," he added.
Mohammad, a garment merchant in Sweifieh who refused to give his full name, said he had planned to observe the strike, but changed his mind when he saw that the majority of traders did not participate.
"Why should I close my shop when most of my neighbours did not do so?"
Mohammad Attar, a merchant on Prince Mohammad Street (formerly Wadi Seer Street), said the law is fair for both tenants and landlords.
"Although I am a tenant, I believe that landlords should have the right to increase the rent," he added.
"When my rent was JD90 annually during the 1950s, it was expensive at the time, but today, landlords cannot do anything with this low rental fee; they need to increase it if they want to meet their expenses," Attar noted.
In a related development, a group of deputies yesterday submitted a memorandum to the Lower House Permanent Bureau, requesting amendments to articles 5, 7 and 19 of the Landlords and Tenants Law.
In the memo, a copy of which was made available to The Jordan Times, the 44 signatories cited social and economic safety concerns as their rationale.