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Tenant's bid to force landlord to refund Sh27m repair cash fails

The tenant wanted to buy the palatial home at upmarket Karen in Nairobi at a cost of Sh85 million. [Courtesy]

The Environment and Land Court has dismissed a tenant’s bid to force a landlord to refund him Sh27 million for repairs done in a rental house after his attempt to buy the property failed.

Martin Kanyingi wanted to buy the palatial home at upmarket Karen in Nairobi at a cost of Sh85 million, but after the deal flopped, he sued the landlord seeking refund of the repair costs.

He asked the court to declare that he was in lawful occupation of the house. But judge Oguttu Mboya dismissed Mr Kanyingi's plea. “He is not lawfully in occupation of the premise as a tenant after the landlord terminated his lease agreement. He must vacate within 90 days, failure to which the landlord will be at liberty to apply for an eviction order,” ruled Justice Mboya.

Kanyingi, in his application, told court he was looking for a rental house in 2016 when he came across the premise at Wind Ridge area within Karen. Upon inquiry he was informed that the property was being let and managed by Belgravia Services Limited.

He said after meeting the company’s representative, they did an inspection of the home and found certain defects that needed repair and modification to his taste and liking.

They then signed a lease agreement for his tenancy to begin on October 1, 2016. However, the repairs according to his taste and liking took 11 months, and he only occupied the premise from November 2017.

Kanyingi submitted that during the period he did not occupy the house, he continued to pay a monthly rent of Sh409,000, which totalled Sh4.5 million.

During the course of his tenancy, Kanyingi stated that he approached the landlord to purchase the house at Sh85 million, but the agreement collapsed at the last minute before the landlord issued him with a letter terminating his lease agreement in November 2019.

He contested termination of the lease agreement and asked court to order the landlord to refund him Sh27,606,510 as costs for repairs and the amount paid during the period he did not occupy the house.

The company’s director Phillipe Cauvier in their defence denied authorising the repairs, and that the tenant should blame himself for spending a fortune to make the house in his own liking when he did not own it.

According to Cauvier, it was the continued work at the premises which made the company terminate the lease agreement with the tenant.

Justice Mboya agreed with their defence, ruling that the house was inhabitable condition at the time the tenant showed interest to occupy it in 2016 and could not turn back to claim what he used to improve it as per his liking.

“Having signed the lease agreement in October 2016, it was assumed that the tenant had confirmed that the defects which were in the suit premises had been attended to. He cannot now turn to claim the costs of repair which were not sanctioned by the landlord,” ruled Mboya.

The judge added that the tenant cannot force himself to stay in a house where the landlord does not want him, and that the only amount he is entitled to for refund is the security deposit he paid when he rented the premise.