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Landlady waives rent amid Coronavirus outbreak

KENYA
By Kirsten Kanja | April 16th 2020
Christim Karimi, the landlady who told her 65 tenants in Kangemi not to pay rent until the coronavirus pandemic in Kenya is over. [Edward Kiplimo/Standard]

Residents of a flat in Kawangware can breathe a sigh of relief after their landlady waived rent indefinitely to cushion them against the effects of Covid-19.

Christim Karimi will lose approximately Sh338,000 each month in rent from the 65 bedsitters for which she charges Sh5,200 per month.

“Many of my tenants lost their jobs, and I didn’t want to make the situation worse for them. I knew that they would struggle to meet their rent obligations on time and there was no point in starting a push and pull with them during these difficult times,” said Ms Karimi.

Karimi, 35, will also foot the maintenance costs of the building as well as other bills such as paying the watchman.

“I had some savings and decided to cater for the bills after the bank reviewed my loan payment plan. I let the bank know that I would be unable to pay the installments, and they allowed for a review of the arrangement.”

Karimi's gesture is a welcome relief for her tenants, coming after Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani ruled out rent waivers, saying the government can only appeal to the landlords to empathise with workers who have lost their jobs. Several companies have scaled back their operations in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Proposed Bill

On Tuesday, senators came up with a Bill aimed at protecting tenants who may not be able to meet their contractual obligations. The Bill states that the tenants shall give notice to their landlords that they are not able to pay rent because of the pandemic and will do so when the situation improves.

Onesmus Murangiri, a tenant in the building, could hardly believe his ears when the news of the waiver was relayed to them by the businesswoman.

“The landlady called a meeting and told us to keep this month’s rent money for food and other needs. She said that we would have at least three months exemption. At the moment I don’t have a job, and if all will not have improved after the three months, the situation will be bad. No one here is going to work, they are at home all day long,” said Murangiri, a construction site worker.

Another tenant, Beverly Amena, who worked at a hotel was recently told that the business would be closing down due to the pandemic, leaving her jobless.

“We were sent home and told that we would be called back if the business situation improved,” said Miss Amena.

Josephine Barasa like other tenants, described Karimi as kind and patient.

“The rent waiver has helped me a lot because my job as a housegirl was put on hold temporarily due to the disease. Many people in this flat do odd jobs and work as house girls but since the outbreak we have been out of work,” said Barasa.

Karimi is married with three children, aged between four and eight. She is not in formal employment and relies solely on her real estate business to make ends meet.

“I would never want my employees or tenants to lack something as basic as food. The money will not serve anyone during this coronavirus outbreak as compassion is what matters at this critical time,” she said.

Karimi noted that she opted to slash the full rent, and not just a portion, because she is aware that most of her tenants have lost their sources of income due to the pandemic.

"They would still struggle to pay the reduced amount."

Covid 19 Time Series

 

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