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Mixed reactions as Landlord and Tenant Bill gains momentum

BUSINESS
By Betty Njeru | March 17th 2021

The proposed Landlord and Tenant Bill, 2021 continues to elicit mixed reactions from Kenyans in the wake of recent evictions witnessed across the country.

The Bill, sponsored by National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya (pictured) seeks to control rents and stop landlords from ejecting tenants for defaulting on rent.

According to the draft bill, landlords could face a six-month jail term or a fine of up to two months of rent for the property in question.

“A landlord and any agent or servant of a landlord who evicts a tenant without the authority of a tribunal or willfully subjects a tenant to any annoyance with the intention of inducing or compelling the tenant to vacate the premises or to pay, directly or indirectly a higher rent for the premises commits an offence,” the bill reads.

Landlords are also required to give a three-month notice on the intention to increase rent.

They could also be fined if they deny basic amenities to tenants e.g. water, garbage collection, and electricity, in a bid to force tenants to pay up their rent arrears.

“No landlord shall, without legal process, seize a tenant’s property for default in the payment of rent or for the breach of any other obligation of the tenant,” the draft law says.

What Kenyans are saying

It is some of these proposals that have landlords and tenants across the country reeling in confusion.

One Kakamega landlord told KTN News that the proposed law is just another means by the government to keep controlling and regulating mwanachi.

“Let the price agreement remain between the landlord and tenant. Now KRA will want to tax us too. They are becoming too much, they are pushing us to the wall,” he said.  

He averred: “How am I expected to shoulder the responsibility of water companies and carry a burden that did not originate from me? The mover of the bill needs to think and do better.”

However, some Taita Taveta residents felt differently. One held that it is a good move that landlords inform tenants of their intention to raise the rent.

“Sometimes there is money, sometimes there isn’t. This is a good thing,” he expressed.

Before the bill is passed in Parliament, public participation will be required.

Increase in rent prices remains a bone of contention as Kenyans grapple with evictions and a burgeoning economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

At the height of the pandemic last year, some landlords as told here and here, waived rent for their tenants to cushion them from the effects of Covid-19.

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