Bank is ordered to give back auctioned home to siblings

Five siblings got a reprieve after a court ordered a bank to return their auctioned home.

Daniel Njenga, Esther Njenga, Lilian Kabura, Emmanuel Njenga and Paul Njenga have been in the cold since 2011, when Standard Chartered Bank sold their home to recover a loan allegedly guaranteed by their mother, Jane Wanjiru, now deceased, to one Joseph Njuguna.

Lady Justice Kossy Bor ruled that the auctioning of the home was illegal and ordered that the land’s title be surrendered to the family.

“I find that the auction of the family land was illegal and as a consequence, the court directs that the title of ownership issued to the current occupant be revoked. The land and the property on it should be surrendered to the family.”

The six-bedroom bungalow stands on a one-acre piece of land on the outskirts of Nairobi along Kiambu Road. There are also rental houses on the property, all valued at Sh60 million, according to the children.

They accused the bank of illegally auctioning it for Sh15.3 million to recover a disputed Sh5 million loan.

“It is our ancestral land where both our parents and late sister are buried. It is where we were born and grew up before it was unlawfully taken from us, rendering us homeless for the past seven years. My mother did not guarantee the loan as claimed,” Daniel, the eldest of the siblings, told the court.

According to the siblings, their mother only guaranteed Njuguna, who was a family friend, Sh4 million in 2006, and the money was repaid before she died in 2009.

Daniel testified that in 2009, the bank loaned Njuguna another Sh5.6 million without security after which his mother’s signature was forged purporting that she had agreed to extend the guarantee.

“My mother had been ailing for four years and was seriously ill at the time of execution of the loan. She died a few days later and there was no way she could have signed the documents. I was close to my mother; she would have told me of the loan,” he told the court.

Daniel had testified that he knew Njuguna as a family friend who frequented their house before their mother’s death, adding that he did not know Njuguna had forged the signature until the bank came to auction the house.

Daniel said that when he wrote to the bank demanding to know the circumstances leading to the auction, Njuguna confronted him and told him to keep off.

The siblings accused the bank of issuing statutory notices to a dead person, saying the family had not got letters of administration for the estate at the time to enable them to negotiate with the institution.

“It was painful to see our six-bedroom bungalow and the many rental houses our parents developed on the one-acre land go for a loan they did not benefit from. We just want to be allowed back to take care of our parents’ graves, which are in the compound,” said Daniel.

The siblings had claimed that before their mother’s death, she repeatedly called Njuguna to find an alternative guarantor and return the title, but he refused.

They also told the court they had pleaded with the bank during the auction to consider sub-dividing the land and selling a portion to pay its claim, but the institution refused, leaving them destitute.

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