By Harold Ayodo
Rogue estate agents are reaping fortunes from hapless house seekers as landlords increase rents with impunity.
?The bogus agents are taking advantage of the principle of supply and demand to de fraud many tenants looking for cheaper housing.
?Other tenants — especially in middle and low income neighbourhoods — have been evicted so as to charge their successors higher rent.
?Majority of landlords in the expansive Eastlands have increased the monthly payments by between Sh2,000 and Sh5,000.
?And some tenants of apartments in Kilimani, Lavington, Riverside and Westlands are battling arbitrary increases of between Sh10,000 and Sh15,000. ?Some of the affected tenants say their homeowners served them with notices last month — a day after Treasury cracked the whip on landlords who evade rental income tax.
?Consequently, tenants who are battling harsh economic times and could not pay a penny more, opted to seek for cheaper houses, which increased their demand.
?Githae ordered the taxman to implement the existing law requiring all landlords to pay revenue of 30 per cent annual rental income.
?Professional bodies like the Institution of Surveyors of Kenya (ISK) and lobby groups like Consumer Federation of Kenya have raised a red flag against landlords. ?
Therefore, estate agents who many rely on to look for houses in major urban areas have increased their ‘viewing’ fees from Sh1,500 per house to up to Sh3,000. A viewing fee is charged by estate agents after showing a house seeker a vacant house.
?A similar amount or slightly higher than the viewing fee is charged by the agent when he/she moves into the house. ?Interestingly, the agents are even swindling landlords who pay them commissions for bringing tenants, unknowing that they have already pocketed secret profits.