Property owners in Mombasa got a reprieve after the High Court in Malindi voided the decision by the county government to raise land and property rates.
According to the new valuation roll gazetted by Governor Hassan Joho's administration, all property owners were to start paying the new rates in March 2020.
In February 2020, Justice Silus Munyao barred the county from enforcing the new rates until the case was heard. The petitioners said the county did not conduct public participation.
The county increased the commercial and industrial property rates by one per cent and later revised it to 0.8 per cent while the residential or agricultural property rates were set at 0.75 per cent and later reviewed to 0.6 per cent.
Mombasa Law Society of Kenya, North Coast Ratepayers and Residents Association, and Francis Kiarii Kariuki sued the county government for increasing property rates without public participation.
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Justice James Olola on Friday said the increase violated the rights of Mombasa property owners.
The Judge said the schedule in the Mombasa County Finance Act 2019 increasing the rates was unconstitutional.
He said all the Valuation Roll of 2011 referred to in Kenya Gazette Notices which were issued under the Rating Act Cap, 267, and Valuation for Rating Act Cap. 266 is invalid.
The petitioners said the county should not have increased the rates at a time when Mombasa is experiencing an economic crunch.
The petitioners said they previously paid rates based on the 1991 valuation roll on unimproved sites as they waited for the county to establish a valuation court to hear their objections.
Justice Olola said the county was expected to establish a valuation court to hear objections from the property owners after issuing public notices inviting their objections.
The petition dated February 24, 2020, states that the county acted arbitrarily in total disregard of the petitioners' and Mombasa residents' right to public participation. The County Government said the review of the rates was necessary and long overdue.