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World Cup bet earns Rongai tenants rent waiver

 Martha Wanjiru(left) who is a landlady based in Rongai who waived January 2023 rent for her customers at her residence with her fiance Lutz Sandmann   on Monday,December 26,2022 during the interview. [Collins Kweyu,Standard]

Christmas, for tenants of a plot in Rongai, came early after their landlady waived rent for January 2023.

Martha Wanjiru Githuku, who will forgo a month's income of Sh150,000, caught her tenants by surprise by announcing the waiver.

In a video clip doing rounds on social media, Wanjiru breaks the news to her tenants in Magenche area in Ongata Rongai Constituency, Kajiado County, who appear to be gathered on a rooftop. The group erupts into cheers as Wanjiru makes the announcement.

The mother of one, who lives in Germany, said she had already decided to waive rent for her tenants to ease their financial burden, before coming to Kenya for Christmas in early November.

"I have tenants who have been here for six years since I put up the houses and they have become like family. Since I have been a tenant before, I understand what it is like in January and what it is to be kicked out the house due to unpaid rent," said Wanjiru.

Wanjiru, 37, stays in one of the houses in the same plot that has one bedroom units. It is here where she stays when she comes home at least twice a year.

During the recent Wold Cup finals between France and Argentina on Sunday 18 December, she invited the tenants to watch game at the plot’s rooftop.

It is here, during half-time that she broke the good news to her tenants.

"Had France won the finals, they would have had two months' waiver as we agreed but since it lost, they will have to pay rent from February as usual," said Wanjiru with a chuckle.

She talks of the idea of putting up the rentals that came as advice from her father when she left the country for Germany.

Wanjiru went to Germany in 2011 to work as customer service supervisor with a European airline where she stayed for several years until Covid-19 struck and she lost her job. She now works with an insurance firm with her fiance Lutz Sandman.

Using her savings which she sent back home to her brother Richard Kamau, , Wanjiru was able to put up the rental units.

Asked how she felt when she waived the rent and how the tenants reacted, she said: "When you do something, you do not do it to impress anyone. I honestly think when I can go to bed with a good conscience, good rest is only what I need."

Her challenge to other Kenyans during this festive season is to do good to others however little it might be.

"You know sometimes you think what you are doing is little but that little to someone else is like moving a mountain for them," she said.

Her fiancé Sandman, whom she has nicknamed Kamau, echoes her sentiments saying the world is looking for people who can do the little they can for others.

"We are happy when we see people happy. We are not rich but the little we have we share with our neighbours who are our tenants,’’ he said.

Wanjiru's tenants, who described her as a sister and not landlord, could not hide their joy over her act of kindness.

"We have had a good relationship with our landlord and even when I delay to pay rent, she understands me ," said Richard Mboya, a tenant.

Mboya, who has stayed at the plot since 2015, says the Sh10,000, which is like his monthly income will now go towards helping in school shopping expenses come January for his children.

Mboya’s spouse Nancy Kemunto described Wanjiru as a loving landlord, who she relates with like a sister.

For Josephine Anyoso, an Early Childhood Education teacher and still in college, the waiver will help her pay her fees for the diploma course she is taking.

"When I heard her (Wanjiru)  telling us the good news, I was overjoyed. I was not expecting it," said Anyoso amid laughter.

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