County’s headache over rent arrears
| Nov 8th 2013 | 3 min read
By MERCY KAHENDA
Nakuru County: Nakuru County government is working on strategies to recover a Sh240 million debt owed by tenants residing in municipal council houses.
According to Nakuru Finance and Planning Executive Committee Member Francis Mathea, the debt has been accumulating for the past ten years.
Mathea said it has been a challenge for the county to settle its bills after the houses were handed over by the municipal council in July.
He said a committee comprising Members of the County Assembly, National Assembly and representatives of tenants shall be formed to initiate a proposal on whether to waive the debt or have the tenants pay. “Accumulated bills have been a challenge to the county. Majority of tenants have not been paying rent while others have documents of having paid though they are not in our records,” said Mathea.
There are a total of 4,000 municipal council housing units located in four wards including Bondeni, Kivumbini, Flamingo and Biashara estates. The units are to earn the county an average of Sh5 million monthly but Mathea said they have not been able to receive such a collection since they took over the management.
Tenants pay monthly rent of between Sh400 and Sh2,500 depending on facilities and the sizes of the houses.
Mathea said even as the negotiations on waiving the rent continue, the county is planning to renovate the structures that have poor drainage and sewerage systems and leaking roofs. He said the county has allocated Sh23,965,000 for renovation, which will begin immediately assessment of the houses’ condition is complete.
Renovation shall commence early next year and it will entail re-roofing, painting and improving drainage systems in the houses. “These tenants are living in conditions that may cause disease due to poor drainage and sewage systems,” said Mathea.
He assured tenants that the county would not raise the rent after the renovations. He added that tenants would be required to continue paying their monthly rent as the government sorted out the arrears.
“During the renovation process, residents shall be required to collaborate while others shall be forced to look for temporary accommodation. Tenants are therefore called on to co-operate with county officers who will inspect their houses and give proposals on how they should be improved,” said Mathea.
However, the county is faced with challenges in managing the houses, among them cartels that masquerade as tenants making it difficult to identify legal tenants. “To identify legal tenants, officers shall go house to house,” he said.
Mathea said cartels have also been collecting money from tenants but the money does not reach the county government. “The county is going to take legal action against people who fleece tenants by collecting money from them illegally,” he warned.
Residents have however complained of huge unrealistic arrears and are protesting over evacuation notices given to those who are not able to raise the amount.
Ann Randa, a resident of Kivumbini estate, said she received an evacuation letter two months ago from the county government for failure to clear her rent within the stipulated period.
“I give you notice that if the arrears amounting to Sh40,725 is not paid by September 9, the county will take possession of the house. Take further notice that the county will not be responsible for taking care of your household goods and legal action will be taken against you to recover the rent arrears,” read the letter.
Randa however claimed she has been paying her monthly rent without fail and wondered over the accumulated figure. “I have lived here from the time we used to pay to NHC (National Housing Corporation) and this figure is beyond my expectation,” said Randa.
According to Governor Kinuthia Mbugua, county leaders have been meeting investors at real estate firms during their foreign visits and this may improve the housing system in Nakuru. “The county has been organising trips abroad for leaders where they interact with contractors and real estate firms. These ideas will be applied while planning modern construction,” said Mbugua.
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